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Idaho National Laboratory

Dr. John Wagner

Laboratory Director

Dr. John C. Wagner is the director of Idaho National Laboratory and president of Battelle Energy Alliance LLC. He is responsible for management and integration of a large, multipurpose laboratory that has a mission focused on nuclear energy, national and homeland security, and energy and environment science and technology. He manages this U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory of approximately 6,000 scientists, engineers and support staff members in multiple nuclear and nonnuclear experimental facilities, with an annual budget of more than $2 billion.

Wagner began serving as INL director in 2020. He has more than 25 years of experience performing research, and managing and leading research and development projects, programs and organizations.

Wagner’s experience is strongly aligned with INL’s programmatic portfolio. He has guided and helped implement INL’s nuclear energy strategy during an innovative and exciting time at the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development. As a recognized expert in reactor and fuel cycle technologies, he is called upon frequently to advise in formulation of policies for nuclear fuel cycles and advanced reactors.

Wagner initially joined INL as chief scientist at the Materials and Fuels Complex in 2016 and served as associate laboratory director for Nuclear Science and Technology beginning in 2017. Prior to joining INL, he worked for nearly 17 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he held several research and leadership roles in reactor and fuel cycle technologies.

Wagner is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recipient of the 2013 E.O. Lawrence Award. He has authored or co-authored more than 170 refereed journal and conference articles, technical reports, and conference summaries. He earned a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1992, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the Pennsylvania State University in 1994 and 1997, respectively.

Read his extended bio here.

Dr. Jess C. Gehin

Associate Lab Director – Nuclear Science & Technology

Dr. Jess Gehin became associate laboratory director for INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology (NS&T) Directorate in March 2021 after serving as chief scientist for the directorate since 2018. Over his 28-year career, he has built national strategies and priorities for nuclear energy, led complex projects and organizations, and developed strong relationships with senior leaders within INL, DOE and federal sponsors, and other laboratories, companies and universities. In support of the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, he served as the national technical director for the DOE Microreactor Program. He expanded NS&T’s strategic direction and helped develop and establish key projects to build advanced reactors at INL such as the Department of Defense’s demonstration microreactor Project Pele, and the Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation (MARVEL) Project. Previously, he held research and leadership positions at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in nuclear reactor core physics, reactor core and system technologies, reactor modeling and simulation, and fuel cycle reactor applications. While at ORNL, he served as director of the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Kansas State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His was an associate professor at the University of Tennessee, is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, and has authored or co-authored more than 120 refereed journal and conference articles, technical reports and conference summaries.

Read his extended bio here.

Juan Alvarez

Mr. Juan Alvarez

Deputy Laboratory Director for Management and Operations and Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Juan Alvarez has over 35 years of experience in management and operations with the U.S. Navy and as a contractor with the Department of Energy. In his role at INL, he has overall leadership responsibility for effective implementation of major functional management and business transformation efforts. He also serves as Executive Vice President of Battelle Energy Alliance LLC, managing contractor of INL. He is a board member for University of Tennessee-Battelle LLC, Blue Cross of Idaho, Idaho Regional Optical Network, and Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. He also chairs the Battelle Operations Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Idaho.

Read his extended bio here.

Erin Searcy

Dr. Erin Searcy

Acting Deputy Laboratory Director and Chief Research Officer

Dr. Erin Searcy is the acting deputy laboratory director for Science and Technology and chief research officer at Idaho National Laboratory. Prior to this role, she served as the chief technology officer for the laboratory’s Nuclear Science and Technology directorate. In this role, Erin led a variety of strategic and technology deployment activities and engagements across the lab, with the Department of Energy, industry and universities. Prior to this role, she was the director of strategic planning and transformation for the Nuclear Science and Technology directorate. From 2018-21, Erin was the director of Institutional Planning and Programs, where she led INL’s $37 million Lab Directed Research and Development program, led the compilation of INL’s Lab Plan and agenda, and oversaw research excellence activities. Prior to that role, Erin was the Bioenergy Technologies Department manager, where she led a team of more than 30 researchers and scientists to address barriers to the efficient supply of quality, sustainable biomass feedstocks. She spent almost three years supporting the Bioenergy Technologies Office at Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a technical advisor employed by INL. Prior to joining the laboratory, she acted as a sessional instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta and was a consultant. She holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering.

Read his extended bio here.