Oak Ridge director to step down

The longtime director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will leave this summer to take an executive position at the firm that helps run the lab.

Thom Mason, Director Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The longtime director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will leave this summer to take an executive position at the firm that helps run the lab.

Dr. Thom Mason, said the laboratory in a Feb. 24 statement, will step down in in July to become senior vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle.

Battelle has management roles at seven national U.S. national laboratories, including six for the Department of Energy and one for the Department of Homeland Security.

Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle along with the University of Tennessee, have managed the Oak Ridge, Tenn.-based facility since 2000.

Mason's scheduled last day, July 1, is 10 years to the day of his becoming director of ORNL, according to the statement.

The lab said it has formed a committee to search for Mason's replacement.

Mason, a trained experimental condensed matter physicist, has been with the research lab since 1998, when he came to work at the facility's Spallation Neutron Source. He assumed responsibility for completing the $1.4 billion project that provides pulsed neutron beams for scientific and industrial research, the lab said.

In a Feb. 24 interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel, Mason said his decision to leave had nothing to do with rumors that the Trump administration plans to cut Energy Department research funds. He said he was looking for something different after 10 years at the lab.

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