Today at Berkeley Lab

Director’s Update on ALS Leadership

Dear Berkeley Lab colleagues,

A few months ago, I wrote to you about the central role of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) to Berkeley Lab’s research portfolio and to the national research enterprise. The outstanding ALS staff are continually developing expanded capabilities for their user community, and each year they produce surprising scientific breakthroughs with the ALS’s bright beams.

After 10 years in charge of this world-renowned X-ray light source facility, ALS Director Roger Falcone has decided to step down from this role to return to teaching and research at UC Berkeley. In addition, on January 1 he will begin a term as president of the American Physical Society (APS), following a long list of distinguished physicists who have served in this role. We are proud to have Roger serve as chief advocate for physics research in this very challenging time.

During Roger’s tenure as ALS director, the number of published articles based on ALS research has increased 76% to 1,000 per year. The ALS commissioned several new beamlines, and Roger led the development of countless beamline upgrades and new endstations. He also drove the effort to keep the ALS accelerator the highest brightness source of soft X-rays in the world through periodic critical upgrades, all while maintaining a unique and collaborative safety culture at the ALS.

Roger has kept his eye on the longer-term future, initiating the successful effort to develop the Advanced Light Source Upgrade (ALS-U). The ALS-U team passed a major milestone last year when it was given CD-0 approval, entering the conceptual design phase of the project. We are now well-positioned with a strategy to make the ALS a much more powerful source, thereby maintaining Berkeley Lab’s world leadership in soft X-ray science for decades to come.

As a physicist, I can also attest to Roger’s role in keeping the UC Berkeley Physics Department as perhaps the best in the country. His research on the interaction of intense light and X-ray pulses with matter is at the level of the best in the world. He chaired the department from 1995-2000, and for many years has helped to attract the superb Physics faculty that I was honored to join last year.

In addition to his roles at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, Roger serves on the Science and Technology Committee for the Board of Governors of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national labs; chairs the Advisory Board for Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland; is director of the UC Institute for Materials Dynamics at Extreme Conditions; was co-chair of the NSF-DMR Committee for the report, “NSF Materials 2022”; and is past member of the APS Panel on Public Affairs. He also chairs the faculty advisory committee for UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science.

Roger is a fellow of the APS, the Optical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He shared the APS Leo Szilard Lectureship with the APS Study Group for National Missile Defense (2005), and the Halbach Prize for Instrumentation at the ALS with R.W. Schoenlein (2000); was a Distinguished Traveling Lecturer of the APS Laser Science Topical Group (1992-93); and received NSF’s Young Investigator Award (1984).

We are enormously grateful to Roger for his strong leadership of one of Berkeley Lab’s renowned user facilities, and look forward to his advocacy efforts as APS president.

Best regards,

Mike Witherell