Feature Story | 2-May-2023

ORNL celebrates 80th anniversary, unveils International Hall representing diversity

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory leadership and staff gathered at the lab’s main campus in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on April 27 to dedicate a renovated International Hall of flags and unveil new displays reflecting the lab’s rich 80-year history.

From the ceiling along ORNL’s “Main Street” — a concourse that joins three buildings — a display of flags represent the nations of lab staff, reflecting ORNL’s diversity. Large, museum-like exhibits include a historical timeline that runs the length of one wall, a lenticular photo comparing the Manhattan Project-era X-10 site with the modern ORNL campus and a decadal display that summarizes the lab’s scientific achievements and evolution, from the 1940s to the present.

Interim Director Jeff Smith and Johnny Moore, manager of the Department of Energy’s ORNL Site Office, dedicated the new International Hall in a ceremony that also marked the lab’s 80th anniversary year and kicked off this year’s employee charitable giving campaign, ORNL Gives. A number of nonprofit agencies set up tables and visited with staff members throughout the lunchtime event.

Facing the new International Hall of flags overhead, Smith highlighted the laboratory’s multinational beginnings.

“ORNL has always been an international institution,” he said, referring to the scientists who led the effort to demonstrate plutonium production for the Manhattan Project. He noted the makeup of the wartime X-10 site leadership — Eugene Wigner, a native of Hungary; Enrico Fermi, born in Italy; and Arthur Compton, an American.

That diversity has endured and characterizes today’s ORNL, Smith said: “We are part of a special institution, where our world-leading contributions are enabled by a diverse population from across the globe. It is what makes us leaders — the lab that the nation has turned to for 80 years to find solutions to the toughest challenges.”

This year’s ORNL Gives campaign is led by Kate Evans, division director of ORNL’s Computational Sciences and Engineering, and co-chair Syreeta Vaughn of the lab’s Facilities and Operations. Last year’s ORNL Gives campaign netted about $935,000 for area causes and agencies. This year’s goal is $1 million.

“I see the need in our community,” Evans said. “It’s important to show how much we value our community.”

Through the employee-giving program, staff can select from about 50 area nonprofits to support through recurring payroll deduction and one-time donations.

ORNL’s Creative Services’ Graphics department, led by Mike Hardin, designed and executed the new displays and the arrangement of bright and colorful flags representing 74 home countries of ORNL’s international staff members. The Main Street displays enliven the formerly austere decor of the popular common area – a visually appealing opportunity for visitors and employees alike to learn about ORNL.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit energy.gov/science. – Bill Cabage

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