Sunday talk shows

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

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  • John Becker was back on WBIR today with guest Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of the ORNL since July 1.
  • Panelists Don Bosch (D) and Susan Richardson Williams (R) nudged the conversation toward politics, with Bosch wondering about possible budget cuts and program shifts under Donald Trump’s administration. Zacharia didn’t take the bait, saying “programs ebb and flow” and it’s his job to make the scientific staff feel valued with a strong sense of purpose.
  • “I’m not hearing you say you’ve had pressure to stop studying climate change,” said Williams. Zacharia said he’s met multiple times with Energy Secretary Rick Perry whose goals are clear: national security, super computer, cyber security and nuclear energy.
  • In response to Williams, Zacharia said Sen. Lamar Alexander is “a great champion for science broadly” and has worked closely with ORNL the support “the science and technology that we do there, plus the national security programs.”
  • Zacharia oversees some 5,000 employees. He grew up in India and obtained a master’s degree from Old Miss. How in the world did he get there? Like many young scientists, he wanted to study in the US and his father said only on one condition: He had a friend, a professor at the University of Mississippi. “He was determined to have somebody look over my shoulder.”

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