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Wade named associate lab director for Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate

Mickey Wade has been named associate laboratory director for the Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, effective April 1.

“To reach the nation’s clean energy goals, we must develop and deploy nuclear energy technologies. Given his experience in industry and the national lab system, Mickey is the perfect choice to ensure ORNL is applying its leading expertise and capabilities to help the United States reach net zero,” interim ORNL Director Jeff Smith said.

In his new role, Wade will oversee the directorate’s unique facilities, capabilities and skilled scientists and engineers who are tackling such challenges as extending operations of the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet, investigating economical and flexible advanced reactor systems and making fusion energy a viable power source. ORNL’s Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate leverages synergies between fusion and fission across domestic and international programs.

“The lab has a storied history in addressing compelling national challenges in energy, national security and environmental science through world-class research on harnessing atomic energy, neutron science, plasma physics and advanced nuclear technologies. The Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate will continue this proud tradition of combining vibrant research programs, reliable facilities and cutting-edge expertise to accelerate the development of fusion and advanced fission energy systems,” Wade said. “This effort will be central to delivering sustainable clean energy technologies to address urgent national challenges.”

Wade was named the director of ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division in April 2020. He previously served in various leadership roles at General Atomics, including as the director of the DIII-D National Fusion Program. Wade was also a senior scientist at ORNL from 1994 to 2005. Throughout his career, he has advanced U.S. interest in the international fusion reactor ITER, including serving as co-chair of the U.S. Magnetic Research Strategic Directions Community Workshops; contributing to the development of the original ITER Research Plan; serving on the ITER Management Advisory Committee; and playing a key role in securing congressional support for ITER.

Wade is the first author of more than 30 papers and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He previously served on the editorial boards of Nuclear Fusion and Physics of Plasmas. He now chairs the Science Committee on the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Advisory Board and the KSTAR and WEST International Advisory committees. He received a bachelor’s degree in nuclear science and engineering from Virginia Tech and master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from Georgia Tech.  

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