FSU VP to serve on board for national laboratory

Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell has re-appointed Vice President for Research Kirby Kemper to serve as FSU’s representative on the board that oversees Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Kemper, who has served on the UT-Battelle Board of Governors since 2003, will serve another two-year term. The appointment follows the board’s decision to retain FSU as one of eight university partners of UT-Battelle, a private, not-for-profit company that manages and operates the national laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy.

"We have expertise in numerous research areas that make us natural collaborators, so that they want to work with us in the future," Kemper said. "The partnership gives us a powerful insight into future scientific enterprises and helps us align our research activities with national priorities."

FSU was asked to join the UT-Battelle team of university partners in 1999, the same year the Department of Energy awarded a $2.5 billion, five-year contract to UT-Battelle, a partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute. The contract was renewed in 2005, and the team will soon begin preparing a proposal to the Department of Energy to extend the contract.

FSU was asked to join the team because of the university’s more than 50-year relationship with Oak Ridge, said Kemper, who as a physics professor conducted his own first experiments in nuclear reactions there in 1969. In addition, many FSU alumni are among the lab’s 4,000-member staff and 3,000 guest researchers.

Besides FSU, other core institutions that make up the research team are Duke University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Scientists and engineers at ORNL are working on projects that will strengthen the nation’s leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security.

Oak Ridge also is the world’s foremost center for neutron science research with the upgraded High Flux Isotope Reactor and a new $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source, for which National High Magnetic Field Laboratory researchers at FSU are currently designing a magnet to conduct neutron scattering experiments.

Kemper, a Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor and former chairman of FSU’s physics department, has served as vice president for Research at FSU since 2003.

ORNL was established in 1943 as part of the secret Manhattan Project to pioneer a method for producing and separating plutonium. During the 1950s and ’60s, ORNL’s mission broadened to include a variety of energy technologies and strategies, and this mission was greatly expanded with the creation of the Department of Energy in the 1970s.