Skip to main content

ORAU in the News

Learn more about how ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions for the Department of Energy and other federal agencies through news articles that highlight our commitment to advancing science education and workforce development, and protect health and the environment; our unique laboratory capabilities; our specialized teams of experts; and our consortium of 100+ universities.

Solar physicist proposes new mechanism for how electrons work in solar flares

University of Alabama in Huntsville

Dr. Haihong Che, a 2020 ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award winner, is using NASA supercomputers in her proposal of a new mechanism to explain how electrons work in solar flares. Dr. Che is an assistant professor in the Department of Space Science at UAH, a part of the University of Alabama System, and at UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research.

East Tennessee scientists use a drone called the "Coyote" to study hurricanes


Drones could hold the key to learning more about storms like Hurricane Laura.

"It is kind of exciting because there's an area in a hurricane that if you go there, you don't live to tell about it. It's underneath the eyewall, low altitude over the ocean. These aircraft are designed to go there," said Ron Dobosy, a retiree of ORAU and an atmospheric scientist. 

Dobosy and SUAS Pilot Ed Dumas were part of a team that calibrated and improved instruments for a drone called the "Coyote." 

Amparo Atencio, Come on Down!

Oak Ridger

Local resident Amparo Atencio recently won a new car on “The Price Is Right” television game show.

Atencio, who works at Oak Ridge Associated Universities as a technical training project manager, was asked about her win and experiences on the game show by The Oak Ridger and ORAU’s newsletter.

Oak Ridge woman wins car on "The Price is Right"


An Oak Ridge woman got the surprise of a lifetime when she won a car on the Price is Right.

Amparo Atencio, who works at ORAU, and her family from all across the country successfully got tickets to the March 11 taping before CBS Studios closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ORAU announces Pollard Scholarship Winners

Oak Ridger

Oak Ridge Associated Universities has awarded five William G. Pollard Scholarships of $2,500 each toward undergraduate studies for the 2020-2021 academic year. The recipients of this year’s scholarships are Jamie Batson, Cody Blankenship, Olivia Hudson, Audra Jean (AJ) Jones and Savannah Jones.

ORAU offers free professional development for teachers during the entire month of June


Calling all teachers! Ready to take STEM activities inside of the classroom to the next level?

ORAU is providing free professional development for teachers during the month of June.

With a focus on preparing the next generation of STEM workers, these courses allow teachers to implement science, technology, engineering and mathematics into their daily routines for students K-12.

Here’s how to register for these classes, and why the STEMpact of these courses for teachers continue to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM.

Tracking coronavirus: Health experts share the importance of contact tracing


Contact tracing is a key part in helping public health officials better understand COVID-19, along with limiting its spread. While the process has been a highlight this global pandemic, it is not new.

So, what is contact tracing? Freddy Gray, a director of health preparedness and response and health communication programs with Oak Ridge Associated Universities, describes the process related to COVID-19 as “the ability to try to find out people that have been exposed to another person that is infected.”

ORAU announces recipients of 2020 Pollard Scholarships

Oak Ridge Today

ORAU has awarded five William G. Pollard Scholarships of $2,500 each toward undergraduate studies for the 2020-2021 academic year. The recipients of this year’s scholarships are Jamie Batson, Cody Blankenship, Olivia Hudson, Audra Jean “AJ” Jones, and Savannah Jones.

ORAU awards $25,000 to Union Grove Elementary teacher

Oak Ridge Today

Amy Buchanan encourages students at Union Grove Elementary School to imagine a world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) beyond the limitations of the classroom.

ORAU (Oak Ridge Associated Universities) wanted to help Buchanan and her students do more than imagine.

ORAU recently surprised Buchanan at her house with $25,000 for new classroom technology. This award will allow students to explore, touch, and see the STEM classroom they’ve only imagined.

ORAU diverted 70% of its waste from a landfill last year

Environmental stewardship is the name of the game when you're a contractor for the United States Department of Energy.

But ORAU isn't just playing the game. The scientific and technical solutions organization has written its own rule book for success during the last two decades.

For this organization, being environmentally friendly means more than just recycling – it means adopting green purchasing practices, minimizing waste, utilizing energy efficiency and emphasizing reuse.

Blount County teacher wins $25,000 for STEM classroom makeover

Union Grove Elementary teacher Amy Buchanan smiles upon learning she won the Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Extreme Classroom Makeover grant to help improve STEM education in public schools across East Tennessee, in Friendsville, Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

Blount County teacher earns $25,000 to make over classroom


Classroom creations remain on hold until at least Fall 2020, but one teacher celebrated for the redecorating she can do over the summer.

"I'm a little overwhelmed," said Amy Buchanan, Union Grove Elementary School STEM teacher, "We've worked so hard. And my family and my friends and the kids worked so hard for this. And everybody's been so supportive. We've had so much fun though. It's been awesome."

ORAU awarded Buchanan a $25,000 check to makeover her classroom.

Blount County STEM teacher 3D prints N95 masks for healthcare workers


At Renee Powell's house, there a steady hum coming from her kitchen.

Five 3D printers sit on the counter, each creating personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

"Every four hours, one gets done. It beeps to tell me, it's done, so I get another one going. I even do that through the night because I want to keep this going. They're loud enough that they wake me up, so it's like having a newborn baby," Powell said.

Local students are using a new tool to get Science Bowl ready


Testing your science knowledge is now a little easier. Students across East Tennessee prepping for the Tennessee Science Bowl now have a new tool thanks to our friends at ORAU. Michael Holtz tells us more about a new science bowl prep voice skill that can now be downloaded and used at home to help with study!

Remarkable Women: Dr. Mae Killebrew-Mosley just keeps finding ways to give


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — We are announcing the first of four local finalists in our “Remarkable Women” contest.

When Arminta Mack of Oak Ridge Associated Universities sent in her nomination for her colleague, Dr. Mae Killebrew-Mosley, our committee took notice of the long list of nonprofits she has helped through the years, all while going about as far as you can in earning an education, all while raising a family.

Her mission in life is to inspire women and girls to go for it.

Positively Tennessee: Read City book drive exceeds expectations


After Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs asked WATE to join in on the Read City USA Book Drive, the station jumped in and with help from across the community, collected more than 800 books, all going to Knox County elementary school students. ORAU contributed more than 60 books to the campaign.

How X-Ray machines made glowing shoe sales

Did you know that in the early-mid 20th-century, shoe shoppers inserted their feet into an X-ray fluoroscope that attempted to calculate an accurate shoe-fitting? ORAU Health Physicist Paul Frame is referenced in this feature that talks about the rise and fall of these "marketing tools" that helped sell shoes using a skeletal look at the foot through the prospective shoe, presumably showing how well it fit.

Can virtual reality increase flu vaccines? Oak Ridge Scientists say new game could help

In real life you cannot see viruses. They are too small. But in virtual reality simulations, invisible things can be made visible. Scientists and public health officials hope that virtual reality, commonly shortened to VR, will help make public health issues come alive for people. Researchers at the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium and their partners at the University of Georgia are testing whether immersing people in a VR experience would influence patient attitudes toward seasonal flu vaccination.

Teachers don't miss your change to win a $25K classroom makeover


Teachers this one is for you. Our friends at ORAU are giving you a chance to win a $25k Extreme Classroom Makeover. To win, teachers must submit a video explaining what they would do with $25k in new technology. Creativity is always a good thing, as is featuring students. The applications period for 2020 closes on February 7, 2020. The online application portal can be found at

Study by Oak Ridge scientists shows virtual reality could boost low flu vaccine rates


It's the season where your tissue box is never far out of rach, and at ORAU, scientists are researching methods that could boost flu vaccine rates, specifically for those ages 18 to 49. Deborah McFalls, a health communication specialist at ORAU, and her team joined up with Glen Nowak and other scientists at the University of George to research various educational tactics to see how effective they were in convincing someone to get the vaccine. Specifically, they looked at virtual reality.

ORAU is taking applications for its 2020 Extreme Classroom Makeover

The CW Knoxville

Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 edition of ORAU's Extreme Classroom Makeover, which awards one teacher with $25,000 for technology in his or her classroom. Deadline is February 7, 2020. To learn more visit

Contact us

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146 
Cell: 865.603.5142 

Wendy West
Work: 865.576.0028 
Cell: 865.207.7953