An associate laboratory director at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has been named as the lab's fifth director, Stanford University President John Hennessy announced Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Chi-Chang Kao will succeed Persis S. Drell, who announced her intention to step down from the position late last year. Kao will formally take charge on Nov. 1.
Hennessy said Kao is respected in X-ray science, is known globally for his accomplishments and is a proven leader. He came to SLAC in 2010 from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, where he served as chairperson of the National Synchrotron Light Source. His research focuses on X-ray physics, superconductivity, magnetic materials and the properties of materials under high pressure.
A committee under the direction of Stanford Provost John Etchemendy chose Kao after a 10-month search. SLAC is operated by Stanford for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and Kao's appointment was made with agreement from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
"Chi-Chang is an excellent choice to lead SLAC at this exciting time in its history," Chu said. "He is an outstanding scientist and he has earned the respect of all those he has worked with at the DOE. SLAC has seen great success in the last few years with the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world's most powerful X-ray laser. With his experience and expertise in X-ray science, Chi-Chang is the right person to set a vision for how this extraordinary machine, as well as SLAC's other excellent facilities and its world-class scientists, can revolutionize science in the years to come."
Drell said she has worked directly with Kao for two years at SLAC.
"I've seen firsthand not only the vision he has brought to SSRL, but the strong relationships he has built with our partners at Stanford and the Department of Energy, and the respect he has garnered from his staff and all who work with him at the laboratory. I admire him for his deeply principled leadership, and I couldn't be more thrilled that he was the one chosen to succeed me in this role," she said in a statement.
SLAC is one of 10 national laboratories in the DOE Office of Science. Scientists at SLAC seek to reveal the universe at its smallest, largest, fastest and most extreme by studying the leading questions in X-ray science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Work also includes discovery of new drugs, new materials for electronics, ways to produce energy and methods for cleaning up the environment.
Since opening in 1962, SLAC has built the longest linear accelerator in the world, discovered several basic building blocks of matter and created the first website in North America. Six scientists have been awarded Nobel Prizes for work done at SLAC and more than 1,000 scientific papers are published each year based on research at the lab.