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Kathy McCarthy to join ORNL as US ITER Project Office Director

Kathy McCarthy
Kathy McCarthy

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., November 25, 2019 – Kathy McCarthy has been named director of the US ITER Project Office at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective March 2020.

US ITER is managed by ORNL, with partner labs Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory, and has the responsibility of designing, fabricating and delivering hardware for the international ITER fusion project now under construction in France. ITER is the first fusion device designed to produce a burning plasma, an important step for fusion energy development.

“Kathy is a proven scientific leader who combines technical expertise with experience successfully managing large and complex organizations,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia.

McCarthy will join ORNL in March after three years as vice president for science and technology and laboratory director for the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, where she has overseen a staff of 650 and grown the labs’ commercial work. She previously held a variety of engineering and leadership roles at Idaho National Laboratory, including director of domestic programs in INL’s Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate, director of the Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program Technical Integration Office, and national technical director for the Systems Analysis Campaign for DOE Nuclear Energy’s Fuel Cycle R&D Program.

McCarthy began her career in fusion technology with a focus on liquid metal blanket designs. She was a participant in the US DOE US USSR Young Scientist program, which included experience at the Efremov Institute in Leningrad, Russia, the Latvian Academy of Sciences in Riga, Latvia, and the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Russia, and was also a Guest Scientist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany.

“The international ITER partnership has world-changing potential, and Kathy’s background is perfectly suited for leadership of U.S. efforts and the team here at ORNL. Fusion is the kind of challenge that a national laboratory should address, and Oak Ridge is well positioned to continue its excellent contributions to ITER and to future domestic fusion efforts,” Zacharia said.

McCarthy earned her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a major field of fusion engineering and minor fields of nuclear science and engineering and physics. She was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering this year and has received two American Nuclear Society presidential citations. McCarthy served on the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee from 1999 to 2013 and on the US ITER technical advisory committee from 2010 to 2013.

McCarthy succeeds Ned Sauthoff, who is transitioning to a new role supporting lab-wide efforts across the ORNL research portfolio.

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