Stephen K. Streiffer named director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Headshot of Streiffer outside with background of green grass and trees

Stephen K. Streiffer named director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Credit: Mark Lopez/SLAC

Long-time national lab leader begins tenure in October

UT-Battelle, LLC, has appointed Stephen K. Streiffer to be the next director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He currently serves as interim director at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and will join ORNL in October.

“Stephen is a proven leader with diverse experience and a commitment to mission-driven research and development,” said Lou Von Thaer, CEO of Battelle and chair of UT-Battelle, which operates ORNL for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “Throughout his career, Stephen has leveraged existing strengths to create new opportunities and partnerships that strengthen our nation’s ability to innovate and compete.”

Streiffer joined SLAC last year as Stanford University’s vice president responsible for oversight of the lab. He was named interim director in February 2023. He previously spent 24 years in research and leadership positions at Argonne National Laboratory, concluding his tenure as the lab’s deputy director for science and technology.

“Our national laboratories provide scientists with access to some of the most powerful research facilities in the world, and Stephen has been a key leader in the development of these capabilities,” said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of DOE’s Office of Science. “At Oak Ridge, Stephen’s experience will help to ensure continued impact that benefits the nation and world.”

At Argonne, Streiffer led the Photon Sciences Directorate and served as director of the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science user facility that generates ultra-bright, high-energy x-ray beams for researchers from government, academia, and the private sector. APS is undergoing an $815 million upgrade.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, from March 2020 through May 2022, Streiffer also served as co-director of DOE’s National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL), a consortium that included ORNL and leveraged the national labs to address challenges related to testing, treatment, epidemiological modeling, and supply chain bottlenecks encountered during the height of the pandemic.

Prior to APS and NVBL, Streiffer helped to create and lead Argonne’s Physical Sciences and Engineering Directorate—which includes its Materials Science, Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Nanoscience and Technology, High Energy Physics, and Physics divisions. He also served as deputy associate laboratory director for its predecessor Energy Sciences and Engineering Directorate. From 2000-2009, he served a leadership role in development of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, another Office of Science user facility.

“I was fortunate to work closely with Stephen at Argonne, so I’ve seen his commitment to teamwork and his ability to build support first-hand,” said Mark Peters, Battelle’s executive vice president of Laboratory Management and Operations. “One of ORNL’s top priorities is to retain, recruit, and develop staff members across its broad portfolio of research and operational areas, and that’s been an important area of focus in Stephen’s career. We’re thrilled he’s coming to ORNL.”

Streiffer earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in materials science from Rice University. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Materials Research Society and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

“I look forward to getting to work at Oak Ridge,” Streiffer said. “Through my roles with Office of Science programs and user facilities, I’ve collaborated with ORNL and its extremely talented staff for many years. It’s a great honor to be selected as lab director and to join the team, and I’m committed to continuing the transformative role Oak Ridge has played in our nation’s scientific enterprise for almost 80 years.”

Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee System and vice chair of the UT-Battelle Board of Governors, praised Streiffer’s appointment: “UT is proud to partner with Battelle to manage what we believe is the best science laboratory in the country, if not the world. One of our most important responsibilities is to select and hire the best leadership possible to lead the thousands of brilliant people that make the lab so successful. We believe we have done that in hiring Stephen Streiffer. He has the experience, the energy and the vision to lead the lab to even greater heights.”