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, Argonne has engaged in partnerships that align with its science and technology priorities. Partners include industry leaders such as AT&T, IBM and General Motors.
Kearns drove 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.
He 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 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.
Specific recognition was given 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. Kearns has been a strong advocate for Argonne’s diversity and inclusion and education initiatives. “Paul’s 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 with an extension of the Argonne campus in downtown Chicago to further encourage collaboration with organizations in the city and with 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.