Thomas Zac Ward

Senior Staff Scientist

Core Competencies: 

  • Experimental Condensed Matter Physics
  • Novel Materials Design and Synthesis for Functional Energy, Computing, Sensing Applications
  • Single Crystal Film and Bulk Ceramic Synthesis
  • Quantum Materials, Energy Materials, High Entropy Materials
  • Electronic, Magnetic, and Structural Characterization using Suite of Lab-Scale to Beamline Approaches
  • Prototype Device Fabrication


  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville Ph.D. Physics 2008 (Chair: Ward Plummer)
  • University of Missouri, Columbia B.S. Physics 2004
  • University of Missouri, Columbia B.A. English Literature

Research Experience:

  • 2009-Present Senior Research Staff, ORNL
  • 2009-2011 Wigner Fellow, ORNL

Professional Activities:

  • Editorial Advisory Board: Journal of Applied Physics
  • Panelist, US National Academies’ Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee
  • Chair, Telluride Science Research Center Workshop
  • Co-Chair, International Conference on High-Entropy Materials (ICHEM 2022)
  • Elected Executive Committee: AVS Magnetic Interfaces and Nanostructures Division
  • MRS Symposium and Tutorial Organizer: Multiple Spring and Fall meetings
  • AVS Organizer: Magnetic Interfaces and Nanostructures symposia
  • MMM-Intermag Symposium Organizer 
  • Active member of APS, AAAS, MRS

Education and Outreach:

  • Science Advisor, NASA Space Center Houston Outreach Programs
  • Mentor, ORNL-Appalachian Regional Commission summer research program (4-5 students/yr)
  • Volunteer Staff, ORNL Traveling Science Fair
  • Elementary classroom science demonstrations 
  • Mentor, ORAU-Siemens Teachers as Researchers program

Students and Postdoctoral Scholars Advised:

Graduate Students: Anthony T. Wong (Ph.D. 2017, now Staff Engineer at NASA JPL); Dr. Hangwen Guo (Ph.D. 2012, now Assoc. Prof. Physics, Fudan University, China)

Post-docs: Dr. Alessandro Mazza (2019-2023, now Staff, LANL), Dr. Xingyao Gao (2020-2021, now Staff, Applied Materials), Dr. Wenrui Zhang (2019-2020, now Staff Scientist, Institute of Materials, CAS), Dr. Yogesh Sharma (2016-2019, now Staff, Applied Materials), Dr. Andreas Herklotz (2015-2017, now Research Prof. Physics, Martin Luther University Halle, Germany), Dr. Christianne Beekman (2010-2013, now Assoc. Prof. Physics, Florida State University)

  • 2022 ORNL-MSTD IMPACT Award
  • 2017 Department of Energy Early Career Award 
  • 2016 ORNL Significant Event Award
  • 2009 ORNL Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship
  • 2008 American Physical Society’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in Magnetism