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B-Factory leader Dorfan named third director of SLAC

Jonathan Dorfan, associate director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and head of its B-Factory project, has been named SLAC's third director, President Gerhard Casper announced Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Dorfan, 51, a Stanford and SLAC professor of physics, has since 1994 led the B-Factory project to pursue the question of why we live in a universe dominated by matter, rather than equal parts matter and anti-matter.

He succeeds Nobel Prize laureate Burton Richter, who announced a month ago that he would step down on Aug. 31, 1999. Richter, who will complete 15 years in the position, succeeded W.K.H. "Pief" Panofsky, who was SLAC's founding director and served from 1961 to 1984. Stanford University operates SLAC on behalf of the Department of Energy.

"I'm thrilled at the opportunity to be director of this great scientific enterprise," Dorfan said. "The future of SLAC is bright. My priority will be to expand its scientific horizons."

Richter had informed Casper earlier in the fall of his plans to leave the post and strongly recommended Dorfan as his successor.

"I'm delighted that Jonathan Dorfan has accepted the position of Director of SLAC," Richter said. "Doing this job requires good taste in science, managerial and people skills, optimism, and a sense of humor. Jonathan has all of these aplenty. I can't think of anyone better qualified to take the Lab into the next millennium."

Stanford Dean of Research Charles Kruger headed the search committee for the position.

"The committee quickly found that the SLAC faculty was virtually unanimous in endorsing Dorfan as the ideal person for the job," Kruger said. "We were very impressed with his vision for high-energy physics in general, for SLAC in particular, and for research collaboration with faculty on the main campus."

Casper said that everything he learned confirmed the judgment of Richter and the search committee.

"I had a very long meeting with Jonathan the day Burt announced, and I was very, very impressed with him," the Stanford president said. "All my discussions with him since convinced me that he was highly desirable as director.

"He represents continuity at SLAC, and, more important, he has the respect of high-energy physicists everywhere and can immediately step into Burt Richter's shoes. Jonathan not only is far-sighted about physics but also understands wholly the benefits to be derived, for both SLAC and Stanford, from the interactions that occur between the SLAC and campus faculty members in many fields of science."

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson also emphasized continuity in his statement.

"Stanford has been a partner with the Department of Energy for over 30 years and the leadership from Stanford has always been of the highest caliber," said Richardson. "Jonathan Dorfan will continue that tradition of leadership and build on our successful partnership as we continue to explore the science frontier."

Sidney Drell, SLAC's deputy director emeritus as well as a world-renowned theoretical physicist praised the selection.

"Jonathan has shown outstanding talents as the builder and manager of a major high-energy facility, the B-factory," Drell said. "He does excellent science and has shown all the important capabilities of leadership. He has the vision and has thought seriously about where we should go. So, I'm very enthusiastic about him as an outstanding successor to the line of Panofsky and Richter."

Dorfan, a native of South Africa, is a naturalized United States citizen. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics and applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in 1969, and his doctorate from the University of California-Irvine in 1976. He then came to SLAC as a Postdoctoral Fellow and moved up the ladder to research physicist in 1981, associate professor in 1984, full professor in 1989 and associate director in 1994.

His research areas are experimental particle physics and accelerator design. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and has served on its Executive Board of the Division of Particles and Fields. From 1991 to 1994, he served on the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel, which advises the Department of Energy on funding priorities for particle physics. He has served on the SLAC experimental Program Advisory Committee, the Advisory Board of the Theoretical Advanced Study Institute, the Particle Data Group Advisory Board (including one year as chair), and as an editor for Cambridge Press.

Established in 1962, SLAC is a world research facility with 1,200 employees on site, 2,800 visiting researchers from around the world, and an annual budget of approximately $177 million. Three SLAC scientists have won Nobel Prizes for groundbreaking experiments done at the laboratory.

The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory became part of SLAC in 1992, and in 1994, the PEP-II project was initiated, to build the Asymmetric B-Factory. Dorfan led the effort to establish the B-Factory at SLAC, including being in charge of the team that produced the machine conceptual design and associated report. He currently is the Technical Coordinator for the construction of the B-Factory detector, called BaBar.

The B-Factory, dedicated Oct. 26 by Secretary of Energy Richardson, is a collaborative effort of three national laboratories: SLAC, Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore. It and the BaBar detector involve international partners from nine countries.

Once its tuning process is completed, the B-Factory is expected to begin experiments in the spring. It accelerates two beams of subatomic particles to nearly the speed of light, then forces them to cross. At the crossing point, some of these particles collide, producing tiny bursts of pure energy that materialize almost immediately as other subatomic particles called B mesons.

The B Factory is the world's first particle collider in which the electrons and positrons meet at unequal energies; electrons have almost three times the energy of positrons.

A central theme of research will be the detailed study of the difference between matter and antimatter. This phenomenon, called CP violation, appears to be a crucial ingredient in the formation of the universe. In particular, the B-Factory will pursue the question of why we live in a matter-dominated universe: If matter and anti-matter were produced in equal amounts at the beginning of the Big Bang, what happened to all the anti-matter?

The search committee that recommended Dorfan for SLAC directorship included Kruger, Drell; Gordon Brown, chair of the SSRL faculty; and Blas Cabrera, chair of Stanford's Department of Physics; Keith Hodgson, associate director of SLAC and director of SSRL; Aharon Kapitulnik, chair of Stanford's Department of Applied Physics; David Leith, associate director of SLAC and director of its research division; and Charles Prescott, chair of the SLAC faculty.


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