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ORNL employees win Secretary’s Honor Achievement Awards

Two different teams that included Oak Ridge National Laboratory employees were honored Feb. 20 with Secretary’s Honor Achievement Awards from the Department of Energy. This is DOE’s highest form of employee recognition.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Deputy Secretary David Turk and Under Secretary Geri Richmond presented the awards to the Actinium-225 Tri-Lab Research Team, which includes members from Oak Ridge, Brookhaven and Los Alamos national labs and the National Isotope Development Center; and the G-Invoicing Integrated Project Team, made up of members across DOE, including ORNL’s Business Services and Information Technology Services directorates.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate, but also to recognize your fellow teammates’ and other teams’ remarkable contributions to this department and to our country,” Granholm said at the start of the virtual awards ceremony, which honored 53 teams across DOE. 

She drew on a speech by James Schlesinger, the first U.S. Secretary of Energy, adding that while the teams had multiple different specialties, they “share a common purpose and a common destiny.”

Actinium-225 Tri-Lab Research Team
Some ORNL members of the Ac-225 Tri-Lab team pose in front of a hot cell. On the back row, from left to right, are Andrew Burgoyne, Justin Griswold, Roy Copping, Emily Wilen, Dave Rotsch, Raina Setzer, Jordan Belvin, Allison Peacock, Kari Goldstein, Lance Wyant and David Denton. Center, left to right, are Ben Roach, Mikayla Molner and Stephanie Timbs. In front, left to right, are Kevin Gaddis, Ashleigh Kimberlin, Ryan McNamara, Sheasa Szallar, Sandra Davern, Melanie Taylor, Donna Ault, Katie Medlock, Karen Sikes, Jon Coyne and Kevin Felker. Inset are Summer Widner and Amanda Jackson. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Actinium-225 Tri-Lab Research Team

Richmond presented the Ac-225 Tri-Lab Research Team’s award “for their amazing research and development efforts in increasing the global availability of this important isotope, a radioisotope long sought after in the medical community for its cancer-fighting potential.”

Current and former ORNL team members honored as part of that team were Donna Ault, Jordan Belvin, Rose Boll, Ariel Brown, Andrew Burgoyne, Roy Copping, Jon Coyne, Jennifer Cross, John Cunningham, Sandra Davern, David Denton, Mikayla Duggin, Kevin Felker, Mitch Ferren, Cassandra Fike-Hanley, Kevin Gaddis, Kari Goldstein, Justin Griswold, Susan Hogle, Amanda Jackson, Ashleigh Kimberlin, Ryan McNamara, Katie Medlock, Saed Mirzadeh, Hillary Reichwald, Julie Morrison, Karen Murphy, Allison Peacock, Benjamin Roach, Dave Rotsch, Raina Setzer, Karen Sikes, Dan Stracener, Sheasa Szallar, Melanie Taylor, Stephanie Timbs, Miguel Toro-Gonzalez, Summer Widner, Emily Wilen and Lance Wyant.

Richmond called the team’s success in faster and more frequent actinium-225 production “a heroic enduring collaboration” over a decade that brought about a “renaissance in the field.”

“So proud of all of you,” she said.

The Ac-225 Tri-Lab Effort was established in 2015 by the DOE Isotope Program and researchers at Brookhaven, Los Alamos and ORNL to research and develop new production routes for Ac-225. Thorium-232 targets are irradiated using accelerator beam facilities at Brookhaven and Los Alamos. After bombardment, the targets undergo chemical processing. 

“It’s an honor to be part of an effort that’s working hard to increase the availability of Ac-225 for encouraging radiotherapy research,” said Cathy Cutler, chair of Brookhaven’s Isotope Research and Production Department. “We have a dedicated and talented team across the three labs, each with unique facilities at our hands to support this important program and our continued mission to develop radioisotopes.”

Historically, chemical processing has occurred at ORNL exclusively; however, in 2023, Brookhaven established chemical processing capabilities with the help of the processing team from Oak Ridge. Now the two sites alternate production campaigns, and the purified product is dispensed and shipped to customers. 

“The demand for larger and more frequent batches of Ac-225 has grown tremendously in recent years,” said Burgoyne, principal investigator in ORNL’s Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate’s Radioisotope Science and Technology Division. “At Oak Ridge, we were delighted when Brookhaven established the capability to also process Ac-225, increasing the availability of Ac-225.”

The collaboration’s goal is to fill the void in supply for the medical and research Ac-225 markets. Since its formation, the Tri-Lab Effort has distributed more than 1102 millicuries of accelerator-produced Ac-225 to evaluators. In 2019, the group announced routine production of Ac-225, which end-users can purchase through the National Isotope Development Center. That same year, a Type II Drug Master File was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration, enabling the use of accelerator-produced Ac-225 in Phase I clinical trials. It was acknowledged in 2020.

“From small-scale experiments to routine production, it's truly been remarkable to witness the growth in this production effort,” said Peacock, group leader for Building 4501 Operations, a group that processes the targets, in ISED’s Isotope Processing and Manufacturing Division. “Early stages focused on the development of the complex chemistry required to purify the Ac-225 product; now we focus on continuous improvement efforts to increase efficiency.”

Gforce group
Some ORNL members of the G-Invoicing Integration Project Team pose for a picture after being honored. From left are Brian Ault, Tabatha Burke, Deborah Garland, Pamela Barber, Gail Calloway, Sydni Ward, Hannah Greise, Erica Whitehead, and Oli McIntosh. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

G-Invoicing Integrated Project Team

Turk presented the collaborative G-Invoicing integration Project Team’s award, praising team members’ initiative, creativity and perseverance.

“Nothing worth doing in life is easy,” he said.

ORNL employees who contributed to the G-Invoicing Integration Project Team were Brian Ault, Pamela Barber, Tabatha Burke, Gail Calloway, Hannah Greise, Jhasta Houston, Oli McIntosh, Tim Walker, Sydni Ward and Erica Whitehead. Deborah Garland of the DOE site office at the Lab also was recognized.

G-Invoicing is a new government tool used for financial transactions including agreements, orders and performance. Designed for increased transparency and enhanced government-wide financial management, G-invoicing is now required by national labs and other federal agencies.

ORNL staff were recognized, in part, because they were one of the first on the Integrated Project Team to get the lab’s systems ready to convert. They also lent their aid and expertise to other national labs during implementation.

Group members praised the collaboration efforts both in and outside their directorates. 

“I would not have been able to complete my work without the help of many Business Services and IT staff outside of the project team,” said Walker, computer analyst for Application Development in ORNL’s Information Technology Services Directorate.

Members of the Office of Environmental Management’s Oak Ridge Regulatory and Community Engagement Team also were honored. 

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