Paul Langan began his tenure as the Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for the Neutron Sciences Directorate (NScD) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on January 1, 2015. As ALD, Paul overseas the operation and management of the directorate, an organization of about 650 people that operates two neutron facilities: the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor. Each year, these facilities support about 2500 visiting users. Paul aims to further broaden ORNL’s role in neutron sciences globally, expand ORNL’s instrument capabilities, and prepare for a second target station at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS).
Paul most recently was the Director of the Biology and Soft Matter Division in NScD at ORNL and a prestige research professor in the department of Chemistry of Toledo University. He is Director of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded Center for Structural Molecular Biology (CSMB) at ORNL, he led a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded consortium that develops computational tools for neutron crystallography, and he has been involved in leading various ORNL and LANL Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funded projects over the years. In particular, he has led efforts to develop drugs against cancer and AIDS, to re-engineer enzymes, and to revolutionize the efficiency of cellulosic biomass conversion to fuels and other products. He is past director of the DOE funded Protein Crystallography Station (PCS) at LANSCE and LANL lead for a University of California (OP) funded program led by UCSD on the cellular function of protein kinases. He is co-PI for several DOE and NIH funded grants that are based on applying the techniques of imaging and crystallography. Other positions include the editorial board of the journal Cellulose, co-Editor for Acta Crystallographica Section D, chairman the neutron scattering commission of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr), past chairman of the neutron scattering group of the American Crystallographic Association (ACA), and chairman of the fiber diffraction interest group of the ACA.
After receiving a BSc with honors in Physics from Edinburgh University, Paul was awarded a PhD in Biophysics from Keele University in 1990 and was then appointed to consecutive research fellowships by Keele University to develop neutron diffraction for biology at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory in Oxford. In 1994 Paul moved to the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL), Grenoble, where he was crystallography beam-line scientist and also secretary for the ILL Biology College. In 1998 Paul moved to LANL to work on the design and construction of the PCS, for which he received a Distinguished Performance Award (2002). In April 2011 Paul moved to ORNL as a Senior Scientist and Distinguished Research and Development staff member to build science programs across associate directorates that exploit the world-leading neutron capabilities at ORNL, and to direct for the CSMB. After reorganization of the Neutron Science Directorate in October 2011 Paul became Director of the newly formed Biology and Soft Matter Division.
Paul's research interests include the relationship between structure and function in biology and chemistry, new computational methods and instrumentation for crystallography, and building and leading multidisciplinary teams to address mission driven science in the areas of renewable energy and the environment. He has published articles in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and material science and has a software copyright for a crystallography program called nCNS. His most recent impact has been in applying neutrons to study enzyme mechanism and drug binding, developing novel technologies and computational methods for neutron macromolecular crystallography, and in providing for the first time a detailed understanding of the cellulose and lignin components of cellulosic biomass.