Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Qatar Foundation
Supercomputing luminary and long-time Oakridge National Laboratory stalwart Dr. Thomas Zacharia has been a familiar face in HPC for the last 25-years where he’s been a key figure at ORNL, most recently as the deputy laboratory director. He’s recently made a jump to the Qatar Foundation, taking his wealth of knowledge and experience in a new direction.
“I chose to come here because I was convinced Qatar Foundation (QF) was committed to bringing about change for the country and its people,” he said in a recent Qatar Foundation Telegraph newsletter. “I also saw a passion to make that change real. When I look at any world-class research institution, I search for several key criteria – relevant challenges, adequate infrastructure, motivated people, and the leadership committed to making things happen.”
Zacharia explains that the foundation will be incredibly active in bringing their shared vision to fruition. “Unfortunately, [our] researchers do not have the kind of laboratories needed to achieve the ambitious agenda of transforming Qatar from a hydrocarbon economy to a more diversified economy for the future,” he explained. “That’s why we’re building a 200,000 square meter world-class Research and Development complex, at present the right size for our ambition.”
According to Zacharia, the first 40,000 sqm building is expected to open in the next few months adjacent to the Science & Technology Park (QSTP).
Zacharia says that their goal is to emulate major research centers like Berkely, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – having a world class research university surrounded by equally world-class research facilities filled with bright young students.
“As part of this goal, one of QSTP’s primary objectives is to incubate new companies based on innovative technologies,” said Zacharia. “Ideally, these would be spin-off technologies from our institutes that in turn help small to medium-sized enterprises commercialize research.”
“My expectations for QF R&D are high, and we are still in the early stages,” he says. “In research as in sports, my view is that we shouldn’t brag about our scores in the first quarter. We must let the game play out. I am confident, however, that it is within our reach in five years to have a world-leading research enterprise in Qatar.”
With big goals in mind that will impact the future of Qatar, and perhaps the world, Zacharia is definitely a person to watch in 2014.