Update 3/24/15: This article has been updated to reflect information from one of Alivisatos’ colleagues and a UC spokesperson.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Paul Alivisatos announced Monday afternoon that he intends to step down from the position once a replacement is found.
Since Alivisatos was appointed by the UC Board of Regents in 2009, the laboratory has seen renewal of its infrastructure and growth in programs focused on global energy and environmental needs, according to a press release. Berkeley Lab’s annual budget has also increased more than 30 percent, from slightly below $600 million to about $800 million.
“Berkeley Lab has a very bright future and I am happy to have had the opportunity to help shape its legacy of service to the nation,” Alivisatos said in the release.
He first joined Berkeley Lab’s materials sciences division in 1991 and became director of the division in 2002, according to the Berkeley Lab website. Known for his contributions to the field of nanoscience, Alivisatos has published more than 285 papers.
After stepping down, he plans to return to teaching, and research as a senior scientist in the materials sciences division and a tenured campus professor, according to the release.
According to Jay Keasling, associate laboratory director for biosciences at Berkeley Lab, Alivisatos has spoken before of going back to his research after his time as director. Keasling called Alivisatos a “great leader,” noting that his major accomplishments include securing funding to renew the lab’s buildings and developing a good relationship with Berkeley community members.
“In national labs, we can put hundreds of scientists together to solve some really big problems,” Keasling said. “I hope the next director has that vision and understanding of how powerful Berkeley Lab can be.”
To find a new director, university policy dictates that UC President Janet Napolitano will submit candidate names to a specially appointed committee, according to UC spokesperson Shelly Meron. The committee will then evaluate these nominations, and possibly others, and the president will make a recommendation to the UC Regents.
Senior staff writer Melissa Wen contributed to this report.