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Oak Ridge National Lab leader to deliver Hall Lecture Jan. 14

The Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will deliver the School of Engineering’s Hall Lecture Thursday, Jan. 14, at 4 p.m. in Jacobs Believed in Me auditorium located in Featheringill Hall. A reception will follow the lecture.

Thomas Zacharia

Thomas Zacharia’s lecture title is “Advanced Computing for a Clean Energy Future. Zacharia says high-performance computing will provide solutions to the research and development challenges that must be overcome in order to address new energy solutions.

“It is increasingly clear that even large-scale deployment of the best, currently available, energy technologies will not be adequate to successfully tackle this problem. It is also clear that a significant and sustained effort in basic and applied research and development (R&D) will be required to deliver these advances,” he says.

“In this context, high-performance computing takes on a significance co-equal with theory and experiment in response to increasing demands for energy without creating intractable conflict or dependencies over strategic resources or causing irreparable harm to our environment,” Zacharia says.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is home to two supercomputer centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. World-leading petascale computers – with capabilities that were beyond imagination until recently – are being deployed in Oak Ridge and will be applied to the R&D problems that must be solved to overcome the barriers to new energy solutions.

Zacharia says the computers will provide exceptional tools for advancing toward a secure and sustainable energy fu­ture.

Zacharia oversees one of the nation’s largest research and development programs – with annual expenditures of $1.3 billion – in materials and physical sciences, energy and engineering sciences, computing and computational sciences, life and environmental sciences, neutron sciences, and national security.

Prior to his present appointment, he served as ORNL’s associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences from 2001 to 2009. Zacharia joined ORNL in 1987. He successfully led the proposal to establish the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) through a $65 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the largest NSF award to Tennessee.

Zacharia received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Regional Technical College in Karnataka, India; a M.S. degree in materials science from the University of Mississippi, and a Ph.D. degree in engineering science from Clarkson University. He holds two U.S. patents and is the author or co-author of more than 100 publications. He is the recipient of several scientific, technical and leadership awards.

He serves on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science Advisory Board, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee, the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure, and the High-Performance Computing Advisory Board of the Council on Competitiveness.

The spring semester lecture is part of the John R. and Donna S. Hall Engineering Lecture Series established in 2002 to allow Vanderbilt engineering students hear renowned engineers from universities and agencies address engineering topics of particular interest.