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ORNL’s Merlin Theodore appointed to National Science Board


Merlin Theodore, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has received a presidential appointment to the National Science Board. Theodore is one of eight new board members announced by President Biden; she will join the 25-member board for a six-year term.

Theodore is the first full-time researcher from a national laboratory to serve on the National Science Board, the governing board for the National Science Foundation, or NSF.

“Merlin’s appointment to the National Science Board is indicative of her accomplishments as a researcher, her contributions to national missions, and her advocacy for women and minorities in science,” said interim ORNL Director Jeff Smith.

The National Science Board pursues the goals and function of the NSF, including the duty to “recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of research and education in science and engineering,” according to the White House news release.

As leader of the Manufacturing Science Division’s Advanced Fibers Manufacturing group and director of the materials and processing technology area for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, Theodore directs material research efforts and works with industry to enhance U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing. She also holds a joint appointment with the University of Tennessee.

Before coming to ORNL, Theodore worked at SGL Automotive Carbon Fiber in Moses Lake, Washington, and at Universal Technology Corporation co-located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where she served on the research staff and as technical advisor and coordinator for the minority leaders program. Theodore also held a research faculty position at Georgia Tech.

She has authored more than 30 open literature publications, holds multiple U.S. patents and has received numerous awards. She has served by invitation on scientific and technical review panels, women in science panels and committees. A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Theodore received a doctoral degree in material science and engineering, a master’s in mechanical engineering and an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Tuskegee University.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit