ECP Director Doug Kothe Named ORNL Associate Laboratory Director

By Tiffany Trader

May 16, 2022

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has selected Doug Kothe to be the next Associate Laboratory Director for its Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate (CCSD), HPCwire has learned. Kothe will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Jeff Nichols, whose last day is July 1. Kothe will transition into the position on June 6.

As director of the United States’ Exascale Computing Project (ECP) for the last five years, Kothe has coordinated the effort to deliver exascale computing capability to the DOE laboratories, and as associate laboratory director for the CCSD at Oak Ridge, he will set the vision for one of the world’s most powerful open advanced computing ecosystems.

Doug Kothe

“The ALD [Associate Laboratory Director] serves as an executive member supporting the Laboratory Director in accomplishing the ORNL mission,” reads a March ORNL job posting.

The ALD is responsible for “lead[ing] the science and technology programs in mathematical, computational, and computer sciences research with responsibilities in three integrating roles to: 1) establish a compelling future vision complemented with a strategic execution plan, 2) strengthen stakeholder engagement and relationship management with major sponsors, and 3) drive staff professional growth and development while creating organizational momentum that enhances our facilities and capabilities.”

Kothe will continue to serve as director of the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project, a post he has held since September 2017. A partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, the ECP is charged with ensuring an exascale-ready software ecosystem for the DOE laboratory complex.

Kothe is stepping into the ORNL leadership position at a pivotal time. With deployment of the Frontier supercomputer imminent, ORNL is set to host the United States’ first exascale computer. The HPE-AMD system is projected to provide 2 exaflops of peak computing performance for extreme-scale science and engineering problems.

Kothe’s bio, partially excerpted from the ECP website:

Kothe has thirty-five years of experience in conducting and leading applied R&D in computational science applications designed to simulate complex physical phenomena in the energy, defense, and manufacturing sectors. Prior to his position with the ECP, Kothe was Deputy Associate Laboratory Director of the Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). His positions at ORNL also include: Director of Science at the National Center for Computational Sciences (2006-2010) and Director of the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL), DOE’s first Energy Innovation Hub (2010-2015).

Before coming to ORNL, Kothe spent 20 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he held a number of technical and line and program management positions. He also spent one year at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the late 1980s as a physicist in defense sciences.

Kothe holds a Bachelor in Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri – Columbia (1983) and a Masters in Science (1986) and Doctor of Philosophy (1987) in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University.

Doug Kothe’s bio: https://www.exascaleproject.org/team/doug-kothe/

Jeff Nichol’s bio: https://www.ornl.gov/staff-profile/jeff-nichols

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