Today at Berkeley Lab

Announcement about James Symons, ALD for Physical Sciences

Dear Colleagues,

James Symons, the Associate Laboratory Director for the Physical Sciences Area, has shared his intention with me to step down as ALD on March 31, 2019. He leaves behind a very strong research area, focused on the fundamental physics and accelerator science that have been a central part of the mission of this Laboratory since Lawrence founded it.

Since his appointment in 2011, James had led a number of high-profile projects including the leadership of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, which will provide a 3D map of millions of galaxies; LZ, which will search for cold dark matter; the GRETA gamma-ray spectrometer, which is destined for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams in Michigan; and a major role in construction of the LCLS-II free-electron laser at SLAC.

James came to the Lab in 1977 as a post-doctoral researcher from Oxford University, where he had received his doctorate in nuclear physics. He served two terms as Nuclear Science Division Director and oversaw the transition of the Division from an organization devoted primarily to research at local facilities to one playing significant roles in the construction and operation of national and international experiments, including the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and STAR.

He worked on a number of experiments at the Bevalac, which pioneered the production of rare isotopes using heavy ion beams. He participated in ion-beam research at CERN ISR, and also in the STAR (Solenoid Tracker at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) collaboration, led by Brookhaven National Laboratory, from its inception until 2014. STAR was designed to study an exotic superhot and the superdense state of matter known as the quark-gluon plasma, which existed in the very early universe.

I want to thank James for his legacy of leadership, and for his four decades of scientific contributions to the Lab. Horst Simon, Deputy Director for Research, will lead a nationwide search for his replacement which will start immediately.

Best regards,

Mike Witherell