UT-ORNL Nuclear Expert Wirth Honored in Washington, DC

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UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering Brian Wirth, right, receives a plaque from US Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, middle, honoring him as an Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award recipient. John Kotek, acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, is at left.

Nuclear energy expert Brian Wirth, a joint UT College of Engineering and Oak Ridge National Laboratory appointee, received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from US Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at a Washington, DC, ceremony Thursday night.

Wirth, who holds the Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering, serves in the nuclear engineering department at UT, studying aspects of nuclear environments and materials related to nuclear energy.

That expertise led to his honor, one of nine the DOE bestowed during the evening.

“The ceremony was really nice,” said Wirth. “I was thrilled that College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis, department head Wes Hines and Steve Zinkle attended, along with Alan Icenhour from ORNL.”

The award was established in 1959 and is given by the DOE in recognition of research supporting science, energy or national security.

Named for Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a 1939 Nobel laureate and inventor of the cyclotron—an accelerator of subatomic particles—it is considered the highest achievement that a DOE midcareer researcher can receive.
When notified in May that he’d be receiving the honor, Wirth said beyond just person satisfaction he said the award was acknowledgement of the work he, UT and ORNL were doing.

Along with the medal they were bestowed with at the ceremony, Wirth and the other eight honorees received a $20,000 honorarium.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)