Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  www.ornl.gov
  www.ornl.gov

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Reviews

Updated November 18, 2014
Updated November 18, 2014
94 Reviews
3.9
94 Reviews
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory Laboratory Director Thom Mason
Thom Mason
39 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Awesome work environment and team with great benefits (in 7 reviews)

  • Salaries are good and cost of living is low (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • Most scientists are doing R&D works and writing proposals rather than focusing on scientific research (in 3 reviews)

  • Government bureaucracy/red-tape, ORNL regulations, and tough-to-come-by funding made doing research difficult sometimes (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great time working at ORNL.

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Pros

    Great benefits
    Nice Staff
    Secure Location and isolated

    Cons

    Location can be boring at times.

  2.  

    Good working environment, Smart People, but not quite efficient

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Oak Ridge, TN
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Oak Ridge, TN

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Considering the salary and living expense in Knoxville area, it's a pretty good choice to work here. A lot of young smart people you can talk everyday. You will feel fresh knowledge everyday. You can also collaborate with University of Tennessee to work on some new topics and publish papers.

    Cons

    Sometimes the collaboration can be inefficient. Some experienced researchers are not easy to work with. The salary at ORNL is kinda lower than average value in industry for the same job functions.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Give young researchers more self-controlled time to work on their research.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Top quality research, maximum amount of red-tape.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Knoxville, TN
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Knoxville, TN

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    You have serious teams with serious research objectives. You'll get tons of assistance and/or supervision according to your needs. Every week 8 hours of your time is allotted to career development. They expect you to apply to permanent positions and spend time on it. One of the best post-doc programs you can ask for.

    Cons

    Red-tape and red-tape and more red-tape. Quite literally taking a box from one room to another may include weeks of waiting. The motivation difference between the administrative staff and the researchers is astounding. You will have to fight tooth and nail to get your stuff through the bureaucracy.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Admin staff should be motivated or offered some sort of incentives. It is not that they are not helpful. the problem is there is absolutely no reason for the support staff to be motivated for their work.

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  5.  

    I worked as a summer intern at ORNL with the NICS team developing automation and profiling software.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - NICS in Oak Ridge, TN
    Former Employee - NICS in Oak Ridge, TN

    I worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    The ORNL campus is one of the preeminent national laboratories in the country so you are surrounded by some of the best and brightest scientists in the nation.

    Cons

    If you haven't worked with large supercomputers before and are an intern (like I was) then the distributed computing aspect can take a bit of getting used to.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Great intern experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in Oak Ridge, TN
    Former Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in Oak Ridge, TN

    I worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    -Great intern experience
    -300+ interns to hang with
    -Got to work on my own project, from creation to production

    Cons

    -Not much to do in Oak Ridge, but you have 300+ interns there feeling the same way, so you make great friends

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep doing what you are doing

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Excellent place to start a career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Staff Member in Oak Ridge, TN
    Current Employee - Research Staff Member in Oak Ridge, TN

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Oak Ridge has excellent science resources. A post-doc at ORNL will position you well for the future.

    Cons

    Staying at Oak Ridge requires you to be an entrepreneur. More than universities, your position is dependent on how much money you can bring in.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Work on exciting and important national problems in a good work atmosphere while tolerating some workplace admin. hassle

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - R&D Staff in Oak Ridge, TN
    Former Employee - R&D Staff in Oak Ridge, TN

    I worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    THE place to be for high performance computing. Largest and best computational science research effort in the US (and probably the world). Exciting work, exciting projects, and a chance to make an impact. The computing center (OLCF) leads but all computational science benefits. Other science areas benefit as well.

    Cons

    Biggest con is that each researcher must find a way to write or be included in proposals to fund their time. I.e. soft-money

    Current computer science management support is a little too stove-piped toward computer science only and can fail to understand and develop programmatic opportunities in a multi-disciplinary fashion. This is limited to the Computer Science division and not a characteristic of the entire computational science program or the lab. This can be an impediment to funding

    The lab as a whole suffers from traditional Dept. of Energy reticence toward innovation in conduct of operations (risk-averse) and to an over-conservatism in management to prevent embarrassment as a taxpayer/government funded facility. That is policy is not set by rational risk/benefit calculations but rather by extreme aversion to negative events. This can lead to more administrative burden compared to optimum management.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue focus on excellence in science and operations. Better determine how to develop interdisciplinary programs and to lean forward beyond just current DOE programs to anticipate areas of program development beyond pronouncements of DOE program managers.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    avoid this place

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Postdoctoral in Oak Ridge, TN
    Former Employee - Postdoctoral in Oak Ridge, TN

    I worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    only two words: good paycheck

    Cons

    The group I worked in as a postdoc was scientifically moribund. In all of the group of about 10 people there were only two senior members (one of them part time) from whom I ever learned any new science (new for me, because they were nearing retirement). The rest of the group were into "postal stamp collection" - acquiring trivial facts without reflecting on their broader significance. Outside of the group it was even worse - the place was so full of antiquated metallurgists, it sometimes felt like you were back in the fifties. My work was very applied and for the most part not at all intellectually rewarding. Essentially I was treated as a technician, who was supposed to just measure sample after sample and not ask too many questions. No surprise this group has been since terminated - all of it. Now the companies whose samples I was measuring all the time (instead of doing more meaningful science -like something publishable in Physical Review) won't hire me because they say I spent my whole career in academia. And I haven't been able to do enough good science (and what I have been able to do was mostly unrelated to the immediate interests of the rest of the group), so I can't get a faculty job even at a small college. ORNL really has screwed me over. Avoid them unless you have no choice.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I don't know what they can do.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    SULI Intern

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Pros

    Pretty place to work. Learned A LOT about the research community.

    Cons

    unorganized, unstructured. Could have been a lot better if mentor planned more.

  11.  

    Confort place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as an intern

    Pros

    Great place, nice people to work with

    Cons

    Not very competitive, steady slow

    Recommends

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