The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which houses the fastest supercomputer in the world, has announced that Dr. Thomas Zacharia will retire as the laboratory’s director at the end of 2022.

Zacharia served as laboratory director since July 2017, and at the end of this year will wrap a 35-year career with “the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory.” Zacharia oversees the lab’s $2.5 billion research portfolio and staff of nearly 6,000 people.

Among many accomplishments during his tenure, the Frontier supercomputer system stands out as a significant milestone for the laboratory. The Frontier is capable of 1.1 exaflops of performance and features a “theoretical Peak Performance of two exaflops, or two quintillion calculations per second.”

“This milestone offers just a preview of Frontier’s unmatched capability as a tool for scientific discovery,” Zacharia said at the International Supercomputing Conference 2022 in June. “It is the result of more than a decade of collaboration among the national laboratories, academia and private industry, including DOE’s Exascale Computing Project, which is deploying the applications, software technologies, hardware and integration necessary to ensure impact at the exascale.”

The University of Tennessee-Battelle operates ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, and its board of governors will conduct a search for the next lab director.

“I am very optimistic about ORNL’s future and in its pursuit of excellence – to be among the premier research institutions in the world,” Zacharia said in a message to staff members. “I am very proud that mission and service continue to define ORNL on the eve of its 80th anniversary. We are stewards of an amazing legacy, and there comes a time when we all must pass that responsibility along.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.