Ames National Laboratory director to step down

Adam Schwartz has announced his intention to step down as the director of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Ames National Laboratory.

Schwartz, who took leadership of the laboratory in 2014, will continue as director until a successor is named, and then transition into a part-time role helping to support business development for critical materials research at the lab and with its partners.

“Adam Schwartz has been an exemplary director, enriching the unique relationship between Iowa State University, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Ames National Laboratory, and their missions to advance scientific discovery and innovation,” said Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen. “His thoughtful leadership has positioned the laboratory well to continue serving the nation through the development of new materials and energy solutions.”

During Schwartz’s tenure as director, the laboratory advanced its global reputation in materials science on numerous fronts:

  • In 2016, the laboratory welcomed then Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for the opening of the Sensitive Instrument Facility, which houses next-generation microscopy instruments. The uniquely constructed space has enabled advances in the study of structure and chemistry at the atomic scale by isolating instruments from thermal, vibration, and electromagnetic interference.
  • Also in 2016, the laboratory launched a consortium called CaloricoolTM , directed by the late Vitalij Pecharsky, to develop alternatives to traditional gas compression refrigeration. This work now continues under funding from the DOE Building Technologies Office.
  • In 2019, the DOE awarded the laboratory $10.9 million to establish an Energy Frontier Research Center, the Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals (CATS), a multi-institutional research effort to discover and understand magnetic topological materials.
  • In 2020, the laboratory was granted $12.8 million in funding for its second Energy Frontier Research Center, the Institute for the Cooperative Upcycling of Plastics (iCOUP), a collaboration of two national laboratories and five universities to develop more efficient ways to recycle waste plastics.
  • In 2021, the laboratory dedicated its newest construction project, the Solid-State NMR Laboratory, to house its state-of-the-art Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) capabilities.
  • In 2022, Ames National laboratory was named an American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmark, in honor of its uranium purification process, which contributed to the success of the Manhattan Project during WWII.
  • The laboratory continued its leadership of the Critical Materials Institute, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub supported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, which works to decarbonize industry and increase the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing and clean energy sectors. The CMI has produced more than 150 invention disclosures, licensed 10 technologies, received 26 patents, and won six R&D 100 Awards.

Iowa State University Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert stated Schwartz would remain in the director’s position until his replacement was found, or until July 2024. The Provost’s office will lead a national search to identify Schwartz’s successor.

Ames National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science National Laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames National Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies, and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities, and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Ames National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The 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, please visit