Today at Berkeley Lab

Paul Alivisatos to Step Down as Lab Director


Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos today announced his intention to leave his position once a successor can be recruited to lead the Lab. Alivisatos will return to his research and teaching activities as a senior scientist in the Materials Sciences Division and as a faculty member on the UC Berkeley campus.

During his six-year tenure as Laboratory Director, Alivisatos oversaw substantial infrastructure renewal and growth in programs that are advancing research in global energy and environmental needs, as well as developing new instruments to deepen our understanding of the universe. Under his leadership, Berkeley Lab’s annual budget grew more than 30 percent, from just under $600 million in 2008 to about $800 million today.

Before taking the helm at Berkeley Lab, Alivisatos — who is also a tenured professor in UC Berkeley’s Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering departments as well as Director of the joint Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute — pioneered nanomaterials development. Through his prior work at Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, and Bell Labs, Alivisatos became an internationally recognized authority on the fabrication of nanocrystals and their use in biomedical and renewable energy applications.

“This Lab is changing the world for the better and it is the most exciting place I have ever worked,” said Alivisatos. “What has allowed Berkeley Lab to endure and transcend the scope of the first science conducted here is the tremendous spirit of openness to discovery, joined with a deep commitment to team science that includes everyone at the lab from the most recently hired scientist and those who work tirelessly in support of the science mission to the many scientists here who are the top in their field worldwide.”

UC President Janet Napolitano said that Alivisatos embodies the University of California ethos: teach for California, research for the world. “Paul Alivisatos is a world leader in the field of nanoscience who has used his talents and tremendous energy to help shape how research institutions should interact with society,” she said. “Under his leadership, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has grown even stronger with a renewed commitment to team science in service of California, the nation and the world. He oversaw a remarkable period of infrastructure renewal for materials, computing, and biology, and set the lab on a new course to help solve urgent problems of energy and environment critical to our future.”

“Paul Alivisatos has been an energetic leader of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and he has served the Department of Energy with great enthusiasm and insight,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “His tenure as Chair of the National Lab Directors Council was particularly important for all of the DOE National Labs; he has been a thought leader in our community as it seeks to harness the power of the National Labs as a network to find new solutions to national needs in areas of energy and environment.”

Among his many accomplishments are the establishment of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis with Caltech, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research with Argonne National Laboratory, and two Energy Frontier Research Centers. Alivisatos also led a significant number of infrastructure improvements at the 82-year old facility, including the General Purpose Lab, the Solar Energy Research Center, the Berkeley Lab Guest House, the Advanced Light Source’s User Support Building, the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit, the Computational Research and Theory Building, and FLEXLAB. With the demolition and remediation of the former Bevatron site and the ongoing cleanup of the part of the Lab known as “Old Town,” Alivisatos believes that Berkeley Lab is well positioned to host potential future Department of Energy facilities, including an Integrative Genomics Building.

“Berkeley Lab has a very bright future and I am happy to have had the opportunity to help shape its legacy of service to the nation,” added Alivisatos.