Today at Berkeley Lab

Glenn Kubiak, Retiring Feb. 16, Reflects on a Career in Support of Science

Since his days as a Stanford doctoral student in physical chemistry, Glenn Kubiak has had a relationship with Berkeley Lab. From grad student get-togethers, to the $250 million extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography program that he helped develop in partnership with Berkeley Lab while at Sandia, the Lab has been a constant throughout Kubiak’s career.

In 2012, that relationship grew even closer when he became Berkeley Lab’s Chief Operating Officer, a role that Kubiak has relished for the past six years. Additionally, in 2017, Lab Director Mike Witherell named Kubiak Deputy Lab Director for Operations, signifying his reliance — along with that of Deputy Lab Director for Research Horst Simon — on Kubiak’s strategic advice and leadership.

“Glenn’s dedication and commitment to supporting this great laboratory has been integral to its ability to conduct world class science and technology. We are grateful for his many contributions that have served to improve operational support for our research, while making the Lab a better place to work for all of us,” said Witherell.

“I helped recruit Glenn to Berkeley Lab and have partnered with him for the last six years,” said Deputy Lab Director Horst Simon. “Glenn was perfect fit as the leader of operations, with his commitment to excellence, and at the same time with his deep understanding of science and what the key mission of the lab is. Even when we had challenging issues to work on, it was always enjoyable to collaborate with Glenn because of his can-do attitude and optimistic outlook. He always provided great insights and creative solutions. Thanks to his work, the Lab is in a much better place now than it was six years ago.”

Kubiak’s long relationship with the Lab grew out of his high regard for its pursuit of scientific excellence. “I sought partnerships with Berkeley Lab because I greatly admired the science that was coming out of this laboratory,” says Kubiak. “Out of 17 the national laboratories, I’ve always said that Berkeley Lab has the most ‘intellectual foment’—between the Lab, the UC campuses, and the hundreds of grad students and postdocs, there is just such a huge drive and expectation to be world leaders in science and technology.”

Kubiak addressing employees at a 2012 all-hands meeting.

Kubiak came to Berkeley Lab after 28 years at Sandia, where he started his career as a scientist and then, as he became involved in larger projects, took on bigger roles in operations. He began to feel what he calls an “opportunity to serve.” “Operations support is such a huge part of any successful scientific project,” says Kubiak. “When I worked on the EUV lithography project, I saw that to do that scale of research and have that level of impact, scientists cannot do it alone. They had to be one team with the operations folks.”

In addition to his sense of service, Kubiak says he was enthused by the opportunity to recreate the physical footprint of Berkeley Lab for the next century. “Building the Lab of the future is something that I think about every time I drive over the Bay Bridge and look up the hill and see Wang Hall,” he says.

Indeed, capital improvement building projects have been a large focus of Kubiak’s tenure: he has overseen the completion of Wang Hall, Chu Hall, Building 33, Building 74, FlexLab, and the beginning of construction of the new Integrative Genomics Building.

In his role, Kubiak has also been responsible for overseeing the Lab’s Environmental Safety and Health, Facilities Management, Financial Services, Human Resources and Workforce Diversity, Information Technology, Project Management Office, Assurance and Integrity, and Public Affairs. Among the highlights of his time at the Lab, Kubiak includes the following in his “top ten” list.

  • Working on the Lab’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative within Operations, and helping to establish new priorities, hiring practices, and four employee resource groups.
  • Completing a financial system overhaul that came in on time, within scope, and on budget.
  • Improving Lab emergency preparedness and fire safety practices.
  • Working with the Lab’s Community Advisory Group to forge a better relationship between Berkeley Lab and its neighbors.
  • Restructuring the Lab’s contributions to UC’s retirement plan that ended up creating a more equitable system that actually saved Berkeley Lab money.

Looking back on his tenure at the Lab, Kubiak says that it is the people here who have really made his time here valuable. “I have responsibilities for 800-900 direct reports and a laboratory of over 4,000, and I get to interact with that community and with our external stakeholders every day,” he says. “Those thousands of interactions are a gift; the chance to interact with and be influenced by that many talented and dedicated people is amazing.”

As for what’s next, Kubiak and his wife plan to ease themselves into “semi-retirement” with some volunteer and part-time work, a lot of travelling, and more time with their two adult children. First up is a trip to Italy and France in April.

A gathering to celebrate Glenn’s legacy at Berkeley Lab takes place Friday, Feb. 9, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the cafeteria dining hall (Building 54). RSVP here.