Director’s Message: Progress toward our vision
The lab has been busy since we gathered for our all-hands meeting in mid-May. I share here a few highlights on progress toward our vision — our science changes the world. Consistent with our Impact Argonne priorities, we have showcased our scientific and technological breakthroughs with key stakeholders, redoubled efforts to improve our safety record and continued with plans to support our world-class community of talent.
Most recently, there has been significant proposal activity across the lab. Thank you for the extra effort and dedication. I’m pleased to report that our Joint Center for Energy Research proposal is in for review, and we are hearing good news on several of the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) proposals. These EFRC awards position Argonne well for the future; you will hear more about them through Argonne Today.
Collaboration is fueling many lab successes. Progress we have made with contracts for A21, the nation’s first exascale computer we are scheduled to deploy in 2021, is the result of a team effort by employees in the Computing, Environment & Life Sciences Directorate and laboratory operations. We are also preparing for this fall’s Critical Decision (CD-2) review on the APS Upgrade. A CD-2 is a determination by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science that the technical scope of work, the cost estimate and the construction schedule is sufficiently well known that a project can be completed on the specified schedule and within the specified budget. In addition, Argonne has entered new partnerships with other labs and industry on projects ranging from estimating hurricane impacts and planning disaster recovery to assessing the data vulnerability of foreign manufactured drones and designing and testing next-generation nuclear reactors.
In May, members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology and Under Secretary for Energy Paul Dabbar toured the lab. I thank everyone who helped make the visit a success. Committee members said that exposure to our people, ideas and facilities deepened their appreciation of the national labs. These visits are instrumental in shaping the future of science and keeping our stakeholders well informed as they make funding decisions for FY19 and beyond. For example, Argonne and other national labs are playing a key role in making the nascent conversations about funding a National Quantum Initiative a reality.
I joined directors from 11 other DOE laboratories in Alaska for a National Lab Day, hosted by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski in late May. In addition to participating in conversations about increasing collaboration between the labs, industry and universities, I continued my discussions with Under Secretary Dabbar and other key DOE personnel including Christopher Fall, recently nominated as director of the Office of Science. I am always proud to represent our ideas, breakthroughs, contributions and impact in forums with policymakers and influential committee members.
In early June, Argonne presented its Annual Laboratory Plan to DOE. Our DOE sponsors expressed support for our strategy and provided encouraging feedback on major projects, science priorities and infrastructure strategy. DOE also highlighted some opportunities for improvement, most importantly ensuring that we are working safely. DOE feedback, as well as guidance from the recent UChicago Argonne, LLC, Board of Governors meeting in June, helps us address these areas for improvement and clears the way for future success across all of our Impact Argonne priorities.
Operationally, our Improving How We Work project team is making progress toward simpler and safer work planning and control processes, communication, documentation, training and tools. Field assist teams have conducted over 40 visits with teams to review and improve work planning readiness and execution. You will be hearing more from the Improving How We Work team in the next several months, and they are eager for input as they finalize their plans.
We have distributed our Climate Survey results to all divisions to enable productive conversations about our culture at all levels of the organization. Work continues on our core values, which the leadership team agreed to reinvigorate based on the survey feedback. I am confident our values will guide the behaviors required to fulfill our mission and drive our Impact Argonne priorities.
I value the time I spend engaging face-to-face with our Argonne community of talent. Whether we meet at a “Conversations with Kearns” or another forum, I’m eager to hear what is on your minds. Your candor is vital as we work together as an Argonne team. I thank you for speaking up, working safely and treating each other with respect.
Finally, thank you to the more than 2,100 employees who attended the all-hands meeting in May. It is important that we all understand the Argonne vision and our strategy and plan to achieve it. Our next all-hands meeting is scheduled for July 24, where our associate laboratory directors will share highlights of the science and facilities strategies in our Annual Laboratory Plan, and we will unveil our Argonne core values.
As always, thank you for the work you do each and every day to support the Argonne mission. It is a privilege to lead this laboratory.