December 1999


Strategic plan: Clear “line of sight”
The Office of Planning and Special Projects has a limited number of printed copies of the 1999 Strategic Plan. The plan includes descriptions of ORNL’s programmatic directions and efforts in new program development. Included are four of ORNL’s major “Laboratory thrust” initiatives: Neutron science, including ORNL’s role in SNS and the HFIR upgrade; complex biological systems, including work in functional genomics and structural biology; high-performance computing; and energy and environment, a new inititative.

Some might ask: Why have a strategic plan when a contract transition is imminent?

OPSP’s Johnnie Cannon explains that a good strategic plan for the Lab is a requirement that goes beyond contract issues. And besides, this year’s strategic plan was done a bit differently.

“What we’ve tried to do is provide a line of sight for staff members so they will be able to link their assignments to where the Lab’s thrusts are. A past criticism of the strategic plan is that it’s viewed as a top-level document very few people know about or participate in creating. This year we used a process that involved a good cross-section of the Lab in putting it together.”

Cannon emphasizes that the four Laboratory thrust initiatives are designed to enhance the Lab’s capabilities to do leading-edge R&D.

“I think we’ve made major strides to provide a line of sight,” Cannon says.

The strategic plan is also on the Web at www.ornl.gov/inst_plan/STRATEGIC_PLAN/title99sp.html.

Three to grow
Three ORNL technologies, and the researchers responsible for them, have recently been named to lists of superlatives.

Amit Goyal, a researcher in the Superconductivity Technology Program has been named by the MIT Technology Review as one of the “top 100 innovators for the next millennium.”

The MIT award recognizes those with potential to make significant technological innovations in the coming century. Goyal’s contributions relate to his work and inventions in the area of high-temperature superconductors, specifically the biaxially textured superconductors that enabled Goyal and his co-workers to fabricate a superconducting wire. Such wires can carry up to 100 times more electric current than conventional copper or aluminum wires.

The honor is one of several for Goyal during 1999, including an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine and an American Museum of Science and Energy Tribute to Tennessee Technology Award. He also is ORNL’s Awards Night Inventor of the Year.

Tuan Vo-Dinh received a nice surprise at this year’s R&D 100 banquet, at which ORNL had eight winners. In addition to receiving an R&D 100 award, the Multifunctional Biochip, submitted by Vo-Dinh, Alan Wintenberg, Nance Ericson, J.P. Alarie, Gordon Miller, Minoo Askari and Narayan Isola, also received the R&D 100 Editors’ Award for Most Promising New Technology.

“It was quite a nice surprise for our team,” said Vo-Dinh, of the Life Sciences Division.

R&D Magazine also provided a nice surprise to the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division’s Mike Ramsey. In the September issue, the magazine named his “Lab on a Chip” technology as one of the 40 R&D 100 winners that have made the biggest impact on society and technology. These 40 winners, selected to commemorate the magazine’s 40th anniversary, are a little more than one percent of the total number of R&D 100 winners of all time.

Lab-on-a-Chip is in company with such other technologies as Polacolor film by Polaroid, the IBM System 360 computer, liquid crystal displays, the Teller-Matic automatic teller machine, Nicoderm and the ATSC digital TV standard.

Ethics: A high note
ORNL Ethics Officer Steve Stow has the results from this fall’s Lockheed Martin ethics survey, and things look better. “The results show rather consistent improvement over the last two years in many areas,” he says; “for instance, in questions dealing with management communication we have improved by several percentage points when compared with the corporation.

“However, there is still a strong feeling that senior management needs a stronger commitment to proper business conduct, a view shared across the entire corporation.”

The six core values (honesty, integrity, respect, trust, responsibility and citizenship) all score more favorably compared with 1997, with regard to how frequently ORNL staff feel these values are honored on a daily basis.

“I feel that we owe ourselves a pat on the back for improvements that seem to have been achieved since the last survey,” Stow says. “While they are not enormous, the changes are in the right direction and hopefully represent a movement that can be maintained as we change contractors. It’s unfortunate that we may not have a similar survey in two years so that we can continue to track progress.

Reported by Bill Cabage



The ORNL's firefighters recently did live fire training on dealing with propane tank fires. The training covered the hazards of storing and using propane and how to handle fires. Two instructors from the Oak Ridge Fire Department —Mike Collins and Steve Payne—were on hand. One is shouting instructions in the photo, which looks read enough to us.