News Release

McGuire takes top award at ORNL’s Awards Night for leadership, materials research

Grant and Award Announcement

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Michael McGuire received the Director's Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology at the 2023 Awards Night.


Michael McGuire received the Director's Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology at the 2023 Awards Night. 

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Credit: Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Michael McGuire has received the lab’s Director’s Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology and the Distinguished Researcher award for his leadership and contributions to materials research.

UT-Battelle, which manages ORNL for the Department of Energy, honored 24 individuals and teams at Saturday’s Awards Night event at The Venue at Lenoir City. The awards recognize excellence in research, operations and community engagement, and ORNL Director Stephen Streiffer concluded the event by presenting four Director’s Awards selected from among those honorees.

“Michael’s achievements represent ORNL’s standing as one of the world’s foremost centers for materials research,” Streiffer said. “Materials are key to solving the most difficult challenges in energy and the environment, as well as providing the basis for technical and economic progress that improves the lives of people all over the globe. Basic science investigations exemplified by Michael’s work establish the pathways to these advances.”

McGuire was cited “for leadership and continued contributions to our understanding of complex materials through the synthesis and characterization of new correlated electron materials important to clean energy technologies.” He leads the Correlated Electron Materials group in the Materials Science and Technology Division. His research involves using crystal growth, solid state chemistry and metallurgical synthesis techniques, crystallographic studies and physical property measurements to explore structure-property relationships in complex materials, with particular emphasis on magnetism.

McGuire’s recognition as the lab’s top scientist headlined the annual awards. Streiffer also presented Director’s Awards to two teams, for operational performance and continuous improvement, and to the night’s science communicator awardee.

The Director’s Award for Outstanding Team Accomplishment in Operational Performance went to a multidisciplinary team that developed Hazardous Energy Control Workshops at ORNL and other Battelle-affiliated laboratories. Team members came from ORNL’s Environment, Safety, Health and Quality; Facilities and Operations; and Neutron Science directorates. The team included co-leaders Scot Winningham and Darren Norris, along with Dustyn Copeland, Matthew Mehlhorn, Kristin Zaloudek, John Gutman, Stephen Welch, Jordan Emch, Scott Crowe, Jessica Langstaff, Jason McLemore, Brandy Milun, Corey Spradlin and William Wheat.

Electrical work activities are common at Battelle-affiliated laboratories, with hundreds of workers responsible for procedures to control electricity, steam and high pressures and temperatures that carry significant risks of injury. The dynamic learning workshop was designed for each level of team member, empowering craft workers, planners, supervisors, engineers and managers. A collaboration with six Battelle-affiliated labs kicked off the planning stage of this workshop. By discussing each lab’s experiences with electrical work incidents, the ORNL team was able to develop a more impactful training using real-life examples.

A team from the Neutron Sciences Directorate received a Director’s Award for Outstanding Team Accomplishment in Continuous Improvement, for their work to improve the performance of the Spallation Neutron Source’s mercury target. Those honored are team leader Mark Lyttle, with Leonard Dial, Rex Hogan, Hao Jiang, Kevin Johns, Yun Liu, David McClintock, Mitchell McPeters, Peter Rosenblad, Robert Sangrey and Drew Winder.

The Mercury Target team at SNS has dedicated extensive effort to continuously improving the reliability and performance of the mercury targets. The team’s most recent work has established unprecedented benchmarks in terms of power and energy deposited on the target, including the duration of time the target remains exposed to the beam, peak power output and the quantity of energy deposited on the targets. The SNS is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

Clarice Phelps, an engineer in the Radioisotope Science and Technology Division, received the Director’s Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Operations. She won this year’s science communicator award “for outstanding efforts to communicate to the public the importance of nuclear science and engineering, and to engage with historically underrepresented communities.”

Phelps, the first Black woman involved in discovery of a new element, engaged local and national media to spread her inspirational message of growing up to be an “unlikely scientist” who faced challenges before finding success in nuclear and radiochemistry. She also led an effort with Pellissippi State Community College to develop a career path for radiochemical and nuclear operations technicians, and she recorded a college-level General Chemistry exemplar course funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The course aims "to help curb the interruptions that derail some minority and low-income students as they pursue higher-education degrees in STEM fields."

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. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

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