Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Director John Wagner has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election to this fellowship is an honor bestowed on members by their peers for their research and social efforts to advance science or its applications.
As INL’s director since December 2020, Wagner has been responsible for managing and integrating the lab’s diverse portfolio, which includes nuclear energy, electric vehicles and batteries, microgrids, biofuels, cybersecurity, grid resilience, and critical minerals.
Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society with individual members in more than 91 countries. Its scientific journals Science and Nature are regarded internationally as the most prestigious publications for articles about cutting-edge research. Its tradition of electing fellows began in 1874, with recognition bestowed on thousands of distinguished scientists, including inventor Thomas Edison (1878), sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois (1905), anthropologist Margaret Mead (1934), computer scientist Grace Hopper (1963), and physicist Steven Chu (2000), who also served as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Energy. AAAS membership is open to any person who promotes the association’s goals and shares the belief that science, technology, engineering and mathematics are key to solving many of the challenges the world faces today.
“Working with Dr. Wagner has been a rewarding experience, and I am pleased to see him honored as an AAAS fellow,” said Robert Boston, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office, which oversees INL. “John has shown great ability in moving the lab’s research forward to meet the nation’s critical energy needs.”
Wagner joined INL in 2016 as chief scientist at the Materials and Fuels Complex. He became associate laboratory director for Nuclear Science and Technology the following year. He holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering from Pennsylvania State University, where he also earned his master’s degree. He holds a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, which awarded him an honorary Ph.D. in engineering in 2022.
Wagner is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society and recipient of the 2013 E.O. Lawrence Award. He has authored or co-authored more than 170 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles, technical reports, and conference summaries. He began his career at Holtec International as a principal engineer, performing criticality safety analyses and licensing activities for spent fuel storage pools and storage and transportation casks. In 1999, he joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a research and development staff member, performing research in the areas of radiation transport, criticality safety and spent nuclear fuel characterization. While at Oak Ridge, Wagner held several research and leadership roles in reactor and fuel cycle technologies and programs.
“This is a great honor, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than John,” said Mark Peters, who preceded Wagner as INL director and now is executive vice president, national laboratory management and operations for Battelle.” John has worked tirelessly to make the world a better place through scientific excellence and technological advancements. This recognition by his peers is a testament to his passion, abilities and determination to succeed.”
At INL, Wagner is an enthusiastic champion of inclusion and diversity and has led an ambitious program to bring the lab to net-zero carbon emissions by 2031. He is actively expanding collaboration between INL and state governments in the western United States.