Nuclear engineering alumnus takes leadership role at Oak Ridge

NC State Bell Tower on a snow day

Dr. Alan Icenhour, a 1986 graduate of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University, has been promoted to deputy for operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), effective May 1.

Icenhour has spent 30 years at Oak Ridge, the Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory. He earned his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from NC State in 1986 and went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Icenhour chairs the Department Advisory Council for NC State’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. He received NC State’s Distinguished Engineering Alumnus award, the highest honor the College of Engineering bestows upon graduates, in 2017.

“Alan brings to this critical position a diverse record of accomplishment and a deep commitment to the Lab’s success,” said Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of the lab. “His steady rise through a series of leadership roles gives him invaluable perspective for ensuring operational excellence across the ORNL enterprise.

“Throughout his tenure as associate laboratory director for Nuclear Science and

Engineering and the new Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate, Alan has

demonstrated a consistent ability to identify opportunities, build collaborations, establish a

strategic vision, and lead organizations in new directions, building trust and developing talent along the way. His leadership has strengthened ORNL’s position in fusion energy deployment, nuclear energy modeling and simulation, isotope production, nuclear energy, and national security—fields foundational to our Laboratory’s identity and future.”

Dr. Alan Icenhour

As chief operating officer, Icenhour will play a central role in fulfilling ORNL’s commitment to simultaneous excellence in science and technology, mission support, and community engagement, the lab said in a statement.

After starting out as an engineer performing safety analyses and reviews for the lab’s nuclear facilities and then serving as a research staff member in the Chemical Technology Division, Icenhour spent 21 months as a senior technical advisor to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Nonproliferation Research and Development. He returned to oversee the Nuclear Material Processing Group before becoming interim director of the Fuel Cycle and Isotope Division, director of the Global Nuclear Security Technology Division, and director of the Nuclear Security and Isotope Technology Division.

Before joining ORNL, Icenhour was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy on a nuclear-powered submarine. After leaving active duty, he continued his service with the Navy as a reservist, retiring in 2010 at the rank of Captain (O-6).

The Lenoir, NC, native is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society.