Lee Cheatham is Director of Technology Deployment and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
At PNNL, Cheatham partners with the business community to commercialize intellectual property created by PNNL’s scientists and engineers. He also leads PNNL’s economic development support activities and manages affiliations with state, regional and national technology-based business associations. As part of this role, Cheatham creates new startup and entrepreneurship initiatives and capabilities that are designed to boost job creation, create new markets for ideas and products, and maximize the impact of valuable federal investments.
Cheatham, long-time executive director of the Washington Technology Center, was previously at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., where he launched and led its Office of Strategic Partnerships in an effort to expand and diversify the laboratory’s research portfolio. He also oversaw Brookhaven’s technology commercialization and economic development functions.
Cheatham spent the first 17 years of his professional career at PNNL, where he worked as a computer sciences researcher and manager, addressing issues as diverse as information systems for the military, environmental management and emergency planning, energy systems, and robotics. From 1992-1995, while at PNNL he led the largest-ever (at that time) DOE-industry cooperative research project, one focused on using technology to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. textile and apparel industry.
From 1998 to 2010, Cheatham served as the executive director of the Washington Technology Center in Seattle, an organization chartered by the state of Washington to accelerate the growth and expand the economic impact of small- and medium-sized businesses in the state through partnerships with Washington’s universities and research institutions.
From 2010 to 2013, he served as the chief operating officer and general manager of commercialization for the 500-person Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Cheatham earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in Corvallis, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Washington State University in Pullman, and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He currently serves on the National Science Foundation’s Business and Operations Advisory Committee.