Oak Ridge Director Thom Mason to lecture on “Big Science” at the Science Museum of Virginia

Oak Ridge Director Thom Mason

Oak Ridge Director Thom Mason

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – The director of the world-renowned Oak Ridge National Laboratory will present a public lecture Sunday, May 3 on the impact of “Big Science” on the U.S. Economy.

The era of Big Science began during World War II, with the push to develop nuclear weapons. At the war’s end, the facilities used to develop these weapons were transferred from the military to the new, civilian-operated Atomic Energy Commission.  The commission’s charge was to operate the facilities as national labs. In time, the commission evolved into the Department of Energy.

Today, the national labs are 17 interconnected research facilities with a network of researchers who use large-scale scientific instruments to tackle compelling problems in science, energy and security.  The transference of innovation into practice has had economic impacts ranging from health care to housing, from information technology to manufacturing.

Sunday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia, Thom Mason will discuss these impacts, and the prospect of even greater future economic benefits, in his talk, “The Impact of Big Science on the U.S. Economy.” Since 2007, Mason has been director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest of the Department of Energy science and energy laboratories. Mason is an experimental condensed matter physicist, with a PhD in Physics from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Reservations are required for the lecture, and can be made by calling 804-864-1400, or e-mailing info@smv.org. For more information, visit smv.org.

The lecture is a public event held in association with the International Particle Accelerator Conference, or IPAC ’15, which is hosted this year by Jefferson Lab in Newport News. The conference will draw more than 1,200 participants May 3-8 to the Greater Richmond Convention Center. This is the sixth IPAC conference, and features presentations about cutting-edge accelerator research and technology. Accelerators are powerful research tools used to explore sub-atomic particles. Accelerators are used for fundamental research, but also as tools in disease diagnosis and treatment, in biomedical and materials research and in manufacturing, energy and security.

The mission of the Science Museum of Virginia, located at 2500 West Broad Street in Richmond, is to inspire Virginians to enrich their lives through science. The Museum is a catalyst for inspiration, a place that sparks curiosity and generates ideas in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through hundreds of experiential exhibits, awe-inspiring artifacts and interactive technologies, the Museum presents dynamic science programming to hundreds of thousands of guests each year.


John Warren, Public Affairs Manager, Jefferson Lab, (757) 269-7689, jwarren@jlab.org
Chrissy Caldwell, Manager, Communications & Curiosity, Science Museum of Virginia, (804) 864-1401,  ccaldwell@smv.org


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.