Binder Chosen as 2014 NPRE Distinguished Alumnus


Susan Mumm, Editor

Binder Chosen as 2014 NPRE Distinguished Alumnus


Jeffrey L. Binder
Jeffrey L. Binder

Jeffrey L. Binder has been chosen as the winner of the 2014 NPRE Distinguished Alumni Award.


Returning to the Urbana campus this past fall as the new Director of the University of Illinois Applied Research Institute (ARI), Binder is being recognized “for advancing national priorities in nuclear technology development, and for dedicated service to the programs and mission of NPRE.” He will be presented the award during the NPRE/ANS (American Nuclear Society) student chapter Honors Banquet on Friday, April 25.

Beginning in 2003, Binder was at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where he served most recently as associate laboratory director for nuclear science and engineering. Binder led efforts within Oak Ridge and the greater Department of Energy system to advance national priorities in nuclear technology development. Some of the projects he led included the development of spent nuclear fuel recycling technologies, the revival of an isotope research program, and the formation of ORNL’s Fuel Cycle and Isotopes Division, where he served as director.

In his new role, Binder leads ARI, which he said, “integrates the knowledge, science, and capabilities of the University of Illinois and creates a model for translational research that will lead to greater economic opportunities for the State of Illinois, the region, and the nation.”

Binder serves on NPRE’s alumni group, the Constituent Alumni and Industry Advisory Board (CAIAB), and has provided valuable contributions through CAIAB’s Research and Funding Committee. He has helped recruit NPRE graduate students as interns at ORNL; has participated in NPRE’s Interchange events, in which alumni return to campus to talk with students about companies and employers; and hosted an Engineering at Illinois tour of the ORNL’s facilities in 2012.

“Jeff’s leadership and expertise in developing technology, knowledge of national funding agencies, and willingness to reach out to NPRE have been of great service to us as we provide for our students and make plans for future impact,” said NPRE Department Head Jim Stubbins. “I’m sure that we’ll reap continued benefits from working with Jeff now as ARI Director.”

Previous to his tenure at ORNL, Binder worked from 1990 to 2003 at Argonne National Laboratory in a number of research roles centered on nuclear reactor safety issues, including service as Director of the U.S. International Nuclear Safety Center.

Binder earned his bachelor’s (1985), master’s (1987), and PhD (1990) in NPRE. He also earned an MBA from the University of Chicago.

“My NPRE degrees were the launch point for my career in three ways,” Binder said. “First an Illinois Engineering education prepared me well for a career in a highly technical field. Secondly, my academic research experiences with Drs. (Barclay) Jones (NPRE) and (Thomas) Hanratty (chemical and biomolecular engineering) provided me with the ability to develop, recognize and promote technology innovation and leadership. Lastly, the relationships and friendships I developed at Illinois have been a source of strength and resource throughout my career because of the great reach and impact of Illinois Engineering.

“My overwhelming reaction (to this honor) is one of humble appreciation for the many great engineers, scientists, and leaders that I have had the good fortune to study and work with,” Binder continued. “I have dedicated my career to developing collaborations across disciplines and institutions to innovate technology and solve problems for the nation and the world. As a consequence, any personal success that I have had is completely connected to the wonderful and high quality people I have been associated with, starting with my friends, colleagues, teachers, and mentors from the University of Illinois.”