Division Director, Physical Sciences Division
Physical & Computational Sciences
Division Director, Physical Sciences Division
Physical & Computational Sciences


Dr. Elke Arenholz is the director of the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) at PNNL. The PSD stewards a broad research portfolio encompassing basic and applied chemistry, catalysis, materials science, geosciences, and chemical physics. Research in PSD strives to refine the molecular-level understanding of complex, multiphase and phenomena.

Dr. Arenholz began her scientific career in Germany where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in condensed matter physics from the University of Regensburg and her doctoral degree from the Freie Universität Berlin. Her doctoral thesis was recognized with the Ernst Eckhard Koch award as the best in Germany in the research area of synchrotron radiation. She pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley before embarking on a career at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

During her tenure at ALS, Dr. Arenholz pioneered the development of new and unique research instruments and techniques to study magnetic materials with synchtroton radiation, such as a novel magnet system that allows applying magnetic fields in arbitray direcions providing the ultimate flexibility for magnetic spectroscopy experiments with X-rays. She also developed novel capabilities in X-ray scattering, imaging, and dynamics measurements while growing the magnetism user base at ALS.

Elke Arenholz’s main research interest lies in the area of magnetism and magnetic materials, as well as quantum materials. Her diverse research interests are reflected in her nearly 400 publications.

Following her tenure at ALS, Dr. Arenholz served as the Associate Director of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, where she oversaw the facility’s scientific program and operations starting in 2019. She also spearheaded the facility’s transition to fully remote operation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Most recently, she served as the Co-Director of the Interconnected Science Ecosystem (INTERSECT) initiative at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Disciplines and Skills

  • Magnetism and magnetic materials, quantum materials
  • Spintronics, magnetization dynamics
  • Instrument and method development for X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray scattering, and X-ray microscopy.


  • PhD in Physics, Free University of Berlin
  • MS in Physics, University of Regensburg
  • BS in Physics, University of Regensburg

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • Senior Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.