Knoxville Chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards, ORNL Director Dr. Thomas Zacharia, and Chamber Board Chair Terry Turner at the Sept. 8 Chamber Premier Partner event.



Knoxville Chamber Premier Partners had the exclusive opportunity to hear from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) new director, Dr. Thomas Zacharia, at a morning event on Sept. 8.

Zacharia, who became laboratory director on July 1, 2017, first joined ORNL in 1987 as a postdoctoral researcher. He is now responsible for a diverse portfolio of science and energy developments, spanning fundamental research in physics, biology, and chemistry.

“It really is a great privilege and an honor to be in East Tennessee,” he said. “It truly is an amazing privilege to lead Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the 5,000 or so smartest people who come to work every day.”

Zacharia used his presentation to reintroduce the crowd to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and explain his vision for the future of the facility.

“The reason why we all come to work every day, all 5,000 of us, is in order to make a difference,” he said. “We do that through fundamental scientific contributions. We do basic, scientific work that we translate into applied research, and we work with industries and our partners to have societal impact.”

Interested in becoming a Knoxville Chamber Premier Partner? Contact Michelle Kiely at