PNNL deputy associate director to lead ORNL isotopes directorate

Balendra Sutharshan, deputy assistant laboratory manager for operating systems at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory as assistant laboratory manager for the Directorate of Isotopes Science and Engineering (ISED).

Sutharshan succeeds Alan Icenhour, who has been appointed ORNL’s next assistant surrogate. Prior to joining PNNL, Sutharshan served as Chief Operations Officer for the Directorate of Energy and Global Security at Argonne National Laboratory and spent nearly 20 years in a variety of senior positions at Westinghouse.

Isotope research, production, discovery and application has been a key component of ORNL’s national missions since its inception during the Manhattan Project.

“The skills developed and developed here are of vital importance for science, medicine, industry and security,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “Balendra brings a track record of both public and private sector leadership to these key missions, with a proven ability to integrate research and operations to improve existing programs and support new initiatives.”

At Westinghouse, Sutharshan held a variety of engineering and leadership roles including director of strategy and business development and overseeing strategic and long-term objectives for the nuclear fuel business. His responsibilities included reactor design, product development, strategic planning, business analysis, supply chain management and building international partnerships.

“The opportunity to lead the organization entrusted with ORNL’s remarkable skills in isotopic science and engineering is not a privilege I take lightly,” said Sutharshan. “I look forward to doing everything I can to maximize the impact and productivity of the laboratory’s isotope missions.”

Sutharshan received his PhD in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. a masters degree in chemical and nuclear engineering and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto; and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

ISED was founded in the fall of 2020 to sharpen the laboratory’s focus on the important scientific and technological advances needed to expand the use and production of isotopes for science, medicine, industry and safety.

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