Napolitano appoints committee to find candidates for Berkeley Lab director

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In a Wednesday press release, UC President Janet Napolitano announced the selection of a search committee tasked with finding strong candidates for the position of director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Current lab director Paul Alivisatos announced in March that he will step down from his position once his successor is found. The committee consists of UC regents, UC faculty, administrators and lab senior scientists, and it will be assisted by an executive search firm.

At their first meeting later this month, committee members and invited guests will hold a daylong forum featuring discussions with lab-employee focus groups, U.S. Department of Energy leadership and Alivisatos.

Taxpayers expect a lot from research conducted by the lab, Alivisatos said in an email, and it is important to involve representatives of the lab’s many scientific disciplines in the selection process.

The selection process will be entirely confidential, with only the name of the officially selected director released to the public, according to former UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau, also a member of the search committee. He said in an email that although the search process has not yet begun, he expects there to be a large pool of outstanding candidates for the position.

Birgeneau will also chair a screening task force, which will be responsible for the initial screening of applicants and nominees and for presenting the search committee with a list of candidates.

The regents’ policies for selecting a director of the lab require that Napolitano submit a list of five to 15 candidates to the search committee, which then takes her suggestions into account. After conducting interviews and holding discussions, the committee will make its own recommendations to Napolitano, who will then make her decision on the director of the lab, subject to approval of the regents.

The director of the lab is responsible for leading the development and integration of the lab’s scientific vision, goals and objectives, as well as the overall direction of the lab, according to the UC Office of the President.

“The selection of a visionary leader is critical to the Laboratory’s continued success,” Napolitano said in a letter to members of the lab community Wednesday. “We have an impressive group of individuals providing advice and counsel, and I am confident that we will have an exceptional outcome.”

According to the press release, the task force and search committee’s work will be scheduled so that Napolitano’s recommendation can be submitted to the UC regents and the Department of Energy by the end of the year.

Contact Kayla Kettman at [email protected].