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Sandia Labs appoints director

James Peery

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

The next director of Sandia National Laboratories has ties to both national laboratories in New Mexico.

James S. Peery will succeed Stephen Younger who is retiring at the end of the year. He will become the 16th laboratories director in Sandia’s 70-year history and will officially lead the labs beginning Jan. 1.

Peery, 57, worked at Sandia from 1990 to 2002 and then again from 2007 to 2015. He has served in multiple leadership capacities at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories during his career. He currently serves as Associate Laboratory Director of National Security Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Peery’s appointment was announced Monday afternoon.

Stevan Slijepcevic, chairman of board at National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, said Peery was selected after a nationwide search that included more than 80 candidates. National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., operates Sandia National Laboratories for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

“James rose as our clear choice because of his familiarity with the DOE/NNSA mission, knowledge of Sandia, vast national laboratory leadership experience and deep knowledge of nuclear weapons, cybersecurity, computational science, high-performance computing and systems engineering,” Slijepcevic said. “He also has extensive experience in scientific and engineering code development, as well as in technical program management and development.”

Peery said the opportunity to lead the nation’s largest laboratory and the institution where he started his career is an honor.

“I am humbled to become laboratories director at a time when Sandia is experiencing a significant increase in work supporting our nation’s nuclear deterrent,” Peery said. “We will continue Sandia’s traditions of delivering on our national security missions, supporting our communities and developing our workforce.”

Peery, who has a doctorate in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M University, joined Sandia in 1990. During his career, he has been responsible for the development of massively parallel computational tools in fields spanning high energy density physics to structural dynamics.

Peery left Sandia in 2002 and subsequently served in several leadership roles at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including as principal deputy associate director of LANL’s nuclear weapons program and program director of the NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing Program.

He returned to Sandia in 2007 as the director of the Computation, Computers, Information and Mathematics Center. In that capacity, he supported Sandia’s efforts to hire and provide career development to wounded combat veterans in the Wounded Warrior Program. Peery was named vice president for defense systems and assessments in 2015.

He left Sandia a second time in 2017 when the NNSA named National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia the labs’ new management and operating contractor.

Younger, who will retire Dec. 31, led the NTESS team that began managing Sandia in 2017. He announced his retirement plans just a few months after Sandia said it expects to hire 1,900 employees this year, 1,100 of them to fill newly created positions at the lab. Younger said that he would like to write several more books in his retirement and that he and his wife, Mari, look forward to visiting their grandchildren in Australia.

“As a scientist, civil servant, and senior leader in the nuclear security enterprise, Steve has brought incredible passion and commitment to his work,” said Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, DOE undersecretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator. “… I have full confidence that Dr. Peery will be able to pick up where Steve left off and will continue Sandia National Laboratories’ history of successfully fulfilling its mission of ensuring the safety, security and reliability of America’s nuclear stockpile.”

Peery will begin working with Younger and Deputy Labs Director Dori Ellis in mid-December as part of a transition and knowledge-transfer period, Slijepcevic told employees.

Younger touted Sandia’s economic growth during his tenure in a meeting with the Journal’s editorial board and reporters earlier this year. He said Sandia spent $3.3 billion last year, up nearly $200 million from the previous year.

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