Yanwen Zhang is a Distinguished R&D Staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with a joint faculty appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at University of Tennessee. She received a B.S. and a M.S. in solid state physics at Beijing Normal University (China), and was awarded a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from Lund University (Sweden) and a Ph.D. in Science from Beijing Normal University (China). She worked as an Assistant Professor (2000-2002) at Uppsala University (Sweden), and as a senior/staff scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from 2003 to 2010 before joining ORNL.

She was the recipient of a 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and DOE Office of Science Early Career Scientist and Engineer Award for her contributions to the field of ion-solid interactions in ceramics. She was director of the Energy Frontier Research Center for Energy Dissipation to Defect Evolution from 2014-2020 that advanced the understanding of energy dissipation mechanisms in concentrated alloys. She has published over 407 journal articles with over 12,000 citations with h-index of 54 and given over 100 invited presentations.

She has been an active member of the ACerS Engineering Ceramics and Basic Science Divisions since 2006. She has organized symposia and given numerous invited talks at different ACerS sponsored meetings. Her research focuses on fundamental and applied aspects of equilibrium and non-equilibrium defect dynamics, ion beam modification and radiation effects in materials, with an emphasis on how these processes can be controlled to tailor functionality and properties in complex materials.