Dorfan to step down as SLAC director after nearly 8 years
Jonathan Dorfan, who has served as the director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) for nearly eight years, has announced he will step down this fall.
Dorfan has overseen the linear accelerator facility—one of the world's leading research laboratories—since September 1999. He served as SLAC associate director and the B-Factory Project director from 1994 to 1999.
Stanford has operated the facility, including a 2-mile-long linear accelerator, for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) since 1962. The laboratory—which is dedicated to photon science, particle physics and particle astrophysics—serves more than 3,000 scientists worldwide. Six scientists have been awarded Nobel Prizes for work conducted at SLAC.
"Jonathan Dorfan's tenure at SLAC has been characterized by exceptional scientific vision and foresight," said President John Hennessy. "He deserves our thanks—and those of the greater scientific community—for leading SLAC during a remarkable transition as it moved from being a single-purpose particle physics research center to a multi-program laboratory serving scientists worldwide."
Hennessy added, "Jonathan is respected internationally as a scientific statesman, as evidenced by his chairmanship of the International Committee for Future Accelerators, which has created a collaborative model crucial to the momentum of the International Linear Collider."
Provost John Etchemendy also cited Dorfan's contributions to the wider university community.
"Not only has Jonathan served with great scientific distinction at SLAC, he has been a true citizen of Stanford, strengthening professional relationships and the coordination of research between the laboratory and the university during his time at the helm," Etchemendy said. "Bold ventures such as the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology are evidence of the power such collaboration can produce."
Dorfan said he will continue to stay involved at SLAC and, once a new director is named, will assist in the transition to new leadership. Hennessy said an international search for a new director will begin soon. Persis Drell, deputy director and professor at SLAC, will chair the search committee.
"It has been a great privilege for me to serve as SLAC director during a period of great scientific excitement and progress," Dorfan said. "I have no intention to retire from science, but will stay on in this laboratory and university that I cherish so deeply."
During his tenure, Dorfan is credited with:
- Anticipating the growing importance of astrophysics by creating the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology;
- Capitalizing on the broad discovery potential in photon science to secure the world's first X-ray free electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source, currently under construction at SLAC;
- Strengthening SLAC's interactions with the Stanford main campus by supporting collaboration through such institutes as Kavli, the Photon Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering center and the X-ray Laboratory for Advanced Materials;
- Fortifying Stanford's leadership in particle physics with the B-Factory accelerator, PEP-II, and its 10-nation detector collaboration, BaBar; and
- Attracting outstanding scientists to direct new initiatives, including Persis Drell, John Galayda, Roger Blandford, Steven Kahn, Phil Bucksbaum, Janos Hajdu and Inger Andersson.
DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach praised Dorfan's leadership of the laboratory.
"Jonathan Dorfan is a leader who has guided the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center with integrity, skill and commitment to scientific excellence," Orbach said. "Dr. Dorfan was the project leader for the design and construction of the B Factory accelerator, PEP-II, which has consistently performed beyond its design expectations. He also laid the foundation for the 10-nation B-Factory detector collaboration, BaBar. His scientific stewardship has molded a laboratory with a devoted staff and an exceptional scientific future."