Frequently Asked Questions

What are the DOE programs at ORNL?
The programs are educational and research opportunities for undergraduate college students to work side by side with some the nation’s brightest scientist.

The four programs offered are:

Community College Institute: opportunities to participate in educational training and research relating to energy production, use, conservation, and societal implications.

Faculty and Student Teams: opportunities for a faculty member with two or three students to participate as a team in research relating to energy production, use, conservation, and societal implications.

Pre-Service Teacher Internships: opportunities to participate in educational training and research relating to preparation for teaching K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education.

Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships: opportunities to participate in research relating to energy production, use, conservation, and societal implications; limited number of nonresearch appointments at the U.S. Department of Energy Headquarters.

What is ORNL?
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by UT-Battelle, LLC. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that strengthen the nation's leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security. ORNL also performs other work for DOE, including isotope production, information management, and technical program management, and provides research and technical assistance to other organizations.

The science and technology focus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory includes major initiatives in the following:

  • Neutron sciences 
  • Complex biological systems 
  • Terascale computing and simulation science 
  • Energy and environmental systems of the future 
  • Advanced materials.


What are the program requirements? 

  •  Full-time commitment to conduct research under the direction of a scientific mentor
  •  Attendance at weekly seminar series 
  •  Submittal of a research abstract  
  •  Participation in the poster session 
  •  Completion of pre- and post-appointment surveys
  •  Submittal of an abstract and either a research paper or a Power Point presentation to DOE Headquarters  


How are participants selected?  
ORNL scientists who are interested in hosting students view all applications. They may identify several possible candidates and then make their final decision based on telephone conversations with these students. Therefore, an ORNL scientist may call you and express an interest in hosting you. However, you should understand that this is for decision-making purposes only and should not be considered an offer of appointment. You are not officially offered an appointment until you are contacted by ORISE, the administrative agent for ORNL. Not all mentors call students. Consequently, if you are not called, it doesn’t mean you won’t be selected.


How will I be notified of selection?
When you have been selected, ORISE will notify you by e-mail. The e-mail message will contain your mentor’s name and contact information as well as your research project. You will be asked to respond to that e-mail with an acceptance or declination. You will also receive a message from DOE Headquarters and will be required to respond to it as well.

ORISE will follow with a full appointment package. You will be required to sign several documents and return them to ORISE.  


Will I be paid?  
Each participant will receive:

  • $400 per week paid bi-weekly.
  • $105 housing allowance for those whose permanent address is more than 50 miles from Oak Ridge. See housing section below.
  • Prepaid airline tickets or limited travel reimbursement for drivers. See How do I get to Oak Ridge, Tenn.


Is housing provided?  
If you are coming from beyond a 50-mile radius and do not have a local permanent address, housing arrangements will be made for you in a local apartment complex (summer only). If you qualify for housing and it is not available at the time of your appointment, you will receive a housing allowance of $75 per week to arrange your own.

Semester: For semester appointments, contract housing is not generally available. However, we will assist you in locating suitable housing. You will receive a weekly housing allowance of $75, if your permanent address is more than 50 miles from Oak Ridge.


Is food included?
No. You will need to provide your own meals. Oak Ridge has a variety of fast food restaurants and other eateries, so you will have lots of choices for eating out. Many grocery stores are also available. There is a cafeteria on-site at the laboratory where you can eat lunch, or you can bring your lunch. Restaurants are not close to the laboratory, so it is not very convenient to eat out for lunch.


What should I wear?  
Nice slacks and skirts are fine. “Dressing up” is not necessary or expected.


How do I get to Oak Ridge, Tenn.?

Getting to Oak Ridge by air. Our travel office will arrange a flight for you and pay for it, so you avoid undue out-of-pocket expense. We will also arrange and pay for limousine service to transport you from the airport to your housing.

Driving to Oak Ridge. Housing is located a minimum of fifteen miles from the laboratory. So it is most convenient to have a car. If you drive to Oak Ridge, you will be reimbursed for actual mileage traveled from your home or school. Your reimbursement will be based on a rate of 34 cents per mile (for mileage according to Rand McNally for the most direct route) up to a ceiling of $350 for the round trip. Reimbursement for mileage will be made only for travel in your personal vehicle.

Getting to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Lots of students bring their own cars, so if you don’t have a car there are many opportunities to arrange carpools to the laboratory. Map of Oak Ridge and ORNL vicinity.


What is there to do in Oak Ridge, Tenn.?  
Outside Activities
. Activities on the weekends will be up to you. Typically there are some students who organize bike trips, picnics in the Smoky Mountains, shopping expeditions, baseball games, etc. Most of the students will be living in Oak Ridge, so you will have lots of opportunities to get together outside the laboratory.

Recreation in Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge has a 14-screen movie theater, a small mall, one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the nation, a civic center with exercise trails, exercise and weightlifter’s clubs, coffee houses with weekend entertainment, a library, a community playhouse, miniature golf, tennis courts, soccer fields, an arts community, a bowling alley, and the American Museum of Science and Energy.

Recreation outside Oak Ridge. Outside of town there are historic sites; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and state parks for hiking, biking, and sightseeing; lakes for swimming and picnicking; the Knoxville Zoo; and plenty of opportunities for entertainment of all types in nearby Knoxville.


How do I apply?  
Simply fill out the application found at:


Whom do I contact if I have questions?  
If you have questions, please Cheryl Terry at (865) 576-3427 or