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SLAC gets a new director


X-ray scientist Chi-Chang Kao will serve as SLAC's fifth director, assuming the role on November 1.

SLAC has a new director: X-ray scientist Chi-Chang Kao. Kao currently serves as Associate Laboratory Director for SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and Acting Associate Laboratory Director for the lab's Photon Science directorate. He will assume the directorship on November 1.

Kao will succeed Persis Drell, who announced late last year that she would step down this fall to return to particle physics research and teaching. 

"A committee conducted an international search to find SLAC's next director for nearly 10 months and considered dozens of candidates before making recommendations," Stanford University President John Hennessy said in a statement released by Stanford, which operates the laboratory for the US Department of Energy. "In the end, it was clear to us that the best candidate for the job was clearly the one already at SLAC. Chi-­Chang is both a respected scientist in X-­ray science known globally for his accomplishments and a proven leader, someone who can energetically lead the laboratory's excellent faculty and staff and chart a bold course for SLAC's scientific direction in the coming years."

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu concurred, saying "Chi-­Chang is an excellent choice to lead SLAC at this exciting time in its history. 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."

Kao joined SLAC in 2010 from Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he served as chairperson of the National Synchrotron Light Source. While at NSLS, Kao led significant upgrades to the light source's scientific programs and facilities, and developed new science programs for NSLS-II. His research focuses on X-ray physics, superconductivity, magnetic materials and the properties of materials under high pressure.

"I'm honored to be asked to lead SLAC, a truly exceptional national laboratory," Kao said. "It is a place not only known for incredible accomplishments over the last 50 years in the arena of high-­energy physics, but it has established itself as one of the world's premier laboratories for particle astrophysics and cutting-­edge research in X-­ray science. It's a lab with a talented and dedicated staff and an extremely bright future, one that will help solve some of the greatest scientific challenges facing the world today. I am very much looking forward to working with everyone at SLAC, Stanford and the DOE to lead the lab into its next successful chapter."

Read the full press release here.

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