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New Professional Connections: ARCS Scholars Visit Oak Ridge National Laboratories

Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013

On August 15th, MWC member, Karen Stoner, had the opportunity to travel to Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) in Tennessee as part of a professional networking trip for two MWC scholars.  Rachel Lee, the 2013-14 Patricia A. Stirk Endowment Fellow and PhD candidate in Physics at the University of Maryland, and Nicholas Laurita, MWC Chapter Scholar and PhD candidate in Physics at The Johns Hopkins University, were invited to tour ORNL by Dr. Brent Park, Associate Laboratory Director of the Global Security Directorate (GSD) at ORNL.  As a member of last year’s Endowment Fellowship Selection Committee, Dr. Park was thoroughly impressed with the outstanding slate of ARCS candidates and extended a gracious invitation to all five students to visit ORNL, an invitation which Rachel and Nick were quick to accept.                       

The one day visit began with an overview of the mission of ORNL.  As described on the ORNL website,

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S Department of Energy by  UT-Battelle, LLC. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that strengthen the nation's leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security. Originally known as Clinton Laboratories, ORNL was established in 1943 to carry out a single, well-defined mission: the pilot-scale production and separation of plutonium for the World War II Manhattan Project. From this foundation, the Laboratory has evolved into a unique resource for addressing important national and global energy and environmental issues. Today, ORNL pioneers the development of new energy sources, technologies, and materials and the advancement of knowledge in the biological, chemical, computational, engineering, environmental, physical, and social sciences.”

The remainder of the morning at ORNL was filled with private briefings provided by lead scientists in various departments, such as the Center for Nanophase Materials Science, the Materials Science and Technology Division, the Neutron Sciences Directorate, the Physics and Nuclear Physics Division, and the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. The afternoon session began with a tour of America’s most powerful supercomputer, TITAN, followed by a visit to the High Temperature Materials Laboratory.  The highlight of the day was an hour-long tour of the Spallation Neutron Source, a one-of-a-kind research facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development.

Visiting ORNL was a wonderful opportunity to connect talented ARCS scholars to the vast and varied possibilities for post-doctoral research and employment options at ORNL, and by extension the broader scientific community.  The missions of ARCS and ORNL are uniquely aligned in advancing scientific research in the United States. Continuing to nurture this relationship between ARCS/MWC and ORNL can provide a valuable professional networking channel for ARCS scholars as they near completion of their programs.

As they returned to the airport after their jam-packed day at the Labs, Nick and Rachel offered their thoughts about the trip and agreed it was well worth the investment of their time and energy visiting Tennessee to see one of our country’s leading scientific research facilities.  Reviewing the possible research opportunities at ORNL, Nick chimed in and said, “This trip to Oak Ridge has been life-changing for me.” 


Nick Laurita, JHU, and Rachel Lee, UMD visiting the nation’s most powerful supercomputer, TITAN.





Nick Laurita and Rachel Lee, accompanied by ARCS/MWC member, Karen Stoner, outside Oak Ridge National Laboratory, August 15, 2013.