Paul K. Kearns, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, has been selected for the 2020 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Laboratory Director of the Year award. The award honors laboratory directors who have made major contributions to the overall enhancement of technology transfer for economic development, including support of FLC activities, internal accomplishments, industry involvement and community service.
“At Argonne, we have made tremendous strides in our commercialization efforts, and this award reflects the entire laboratory’s progress,” Kearns said. “By working closely with our partners and sponsors, we are creating more opportunities for Argonne’s scientific discoveries and breakthrough technologies to impact the world.”
Throughout Kearns’ tenure as lab director, a role he assumed in November 2017, Argonne has engaged in impactful partnerships that align with its science and technology priorities. Partners include industry leaders such as AT&T, IBM, General Motors and many others. The FLC award committee also made special note of Kearns’ efforts to create a new directorate — Science & Technology Partnerships and Outreach (STPO) – in 2017.
“By working closely with our partners and sponsors, we are creating more opportunities for Argonne’s scientific discoveries and breakthrough technologies to impact the world.” — Argonne Director Paul Kearns
Argonne has achieved other significant milestones since Kearns became laboratory director. Kearns helped drive the commercialization of key technologies in Argonne’s robust energy storage portfolio, including the trailblazing nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode, which is used in many of today’s electric vehicles including the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt.
Kearns helped to secure upgrades to two large-scale user facilities at Argonne — the Advanced Photon Source (APS) and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. The APS Upgrade and the upcoming exascale Aurora supercomputer will maintain Argonne’s leadership position in characterization and simulation.
Kearns has also created an environment in which Argonne works more closely with the entrepreneurial community in Chicago and across the nation. As lab director, he oversaw the expansion of Argonne’s Chain Reaction Innovations entrepreneurial incubator and broadened the collaborations between the program’s innovator teams and Argonne researchers and facilities.
Juan de Pablo, UChicago’s Vice President for National Laboratories said, “Paul Kearns is particularly deserving of this award. He has served in his role of Argonne’s lab director with dedication, with purpose, and with great effectiveness. We have collaborated on many initiatives that are creating exciting opportunities for Argonne, for the National Laboratory complex, and for the country, and these wouldn’t have been as successful without Paul’s vision and contributions.”
Kearns was specifically recognized for working to develop Argonne’s core values in 2018 as part of the laboratory’s strategy focused on science and technology leadership, operational excellence and its world-class community of talent. He has been a strong advocate for Argonne’s diversity and inclusion and education initiatives. “Paul’s enduring commitment to community outreach and building the pipeline for the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals sets the tone for the future of the laboratory,” said Argonne Chief Human Resources Officer Julie Nuter.
Director Kearns is looking toward Argonne’s future. Recently, he led the effort to create an extension of the Argonne campus in downtown Chicago to further encourage collaboration with organizations in the city. He is also leading an effort to shape a vision of Argonne for 2050. “As we imagine what the future holds, Argonne’s contributions to economic growth will be fundamental to our impact,” said Kearns. “We have changed the world with our science for nearly 75 years, and I’m confident we will continue advancing science and technology in the years to come.”
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.