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Two ORNL staff members chosen for DOE Oppenheimer Leadership Program

The Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program has selected Jens Dilling and Christian Petrie as fellows for its 2023 cohort. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program, or OSELP, has selected Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jens Dilling and Christian Petrie as fellows for its 2023 cohort.

Dilling is director of the Office of Institutional Strategic Planning, and Petrie is a group leader in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division.

“The Oppenheimer program allows a unique window into the laboratory system and its alumni provide insightful input on matters of strategic and operational importance,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “Jens and Christian will benefit from going through the program, growing the positive impact they have on ORNL.”

Dilling and Petrie join the sixth OSELP cohort, which consists of 34 people representing U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories with professional backgrounds spanning technical, operational and strategic domains.

Established in 2017, OSELP is a distinguished fellowship program that includes a series of sessions and site visits for exceptional leaders to explore and gain an in-depth understanding of the national laboratory system and its partners.

Named for J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific leader of the Manhattan Project, OSELP represents a collective commitment from all 17 national laboratories to cultivate the leaders needed to sustain long-term impacts throughout the complex. The program focuses on providing fellows with the following:

  • A systems-level understanding of the DOE lab system and the strengths, challenges and dynamic nature of this system.
  • A rich understanding of the organizational, operational and partnership dimensions of the DOE lab system.
  • Mentorship on career development, diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • The ability to critically assess the DOE lab system through candid dialogues with senior lab and DOE leadership.
  • A network of leaders across the labs, DOE and stakeholders.

Five ORNL employees are alumni of the Oppenheimer program including Brian Egle, Julie Mitchell and Robert Wagner from the 2022 cohort; Tara Pandya from the 2020 cohort; and Eric Pierce from the 2019 cohort. Egle is a section head in the Enrichment Science and Engineering Division; Mitchell is director of the Biosciences Division; Wagner is director of the Buildings and Transportation Science Division; Pandya is a group leader in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division; and Pierce is director of the Environmental Sciences Division.

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