Argonne National Laboratory Names New Director

Published on March 11, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Eric D. Isaacs, a prominent University of Chicago physicist and senior administrator at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, has been selected to become the next director of Argonne. The appointment will be effective May 1, 2009.

Eric D. Isaacs, a prominent University of Chicago physicist and senior administrator at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, has been selected to become the next director of Argonne. The appointment will be effective May 1, 2009.

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer made the announcement in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors of UChicago Argonne, LLC, which operates Argonne for the Department of Energy. The university has managed Argonne for the United States government since 1946. Energy Secretary Steven Chu met yesterday with Isaacs and Zimmer in his office in Washington, D.C., and supported Isaacs' candidacy.

“Dr. Isaacs' scientific expertise, leadership ability and strategic perspective on Argonne's future will serve him well in his new role,” said Secretary Chu. "This is an excellent choice for the laboratory, for DOE and for the nation."

Isaacs' selection was made following a national search for a replacement for current Argonne Director Robert Rosner, who previously indicated that he planned to step down at the end of his current term. Rosner will return to his duties as the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.

Isaacs currently serves as Argonne's deputy laboratory director for programs, with responsibility for leading the laboratory's strategic planning process and overseeing the laboratory-directed research and development program, as well as its educational programs. Prior to that, he was director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne.

“Argonne is an extraordinary national resource for advancing understanding of fundamental science and how that science leads to innovation in addressing pressing national issues of our time,” Zimmer said. “Eric's experience and record of achievement, as a scientist, as director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials and as the leader of strategic planning at Argonne, demonstrate that he has a compelling vision for the laboratory and the leadership skills to realize it. He understands Argonne's important role in the DOE national laboratory system and the importance of the laboratory's connection to the University of Chicago and our partner universities. We look forward to working with Eric and supporting him in his important work.”

Since assuming responsibility for strategic planning in May 2008, Isaacs has led a comprehensive review of the laboratory's mission and identified future opportunities for growth in capabilities and funding. In his new role he will guide implementation of the strategic plan, leading Argonne in strengthening science research and development efforts that underlie key national imperatives: energy security, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness and national security.

In addition to his roles as deputy laboratory director of programs and director of Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials, Isaacs is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Physics and in the James Franck Institute.

“I am deeply honored to be chosen to lead one of the top scientific research facilities in the world,” Isaacs said. “This is a unique and promising time in Argonne's 62-year history. Argonne has embarked on a new path, in effect re-inventing and re-invigorating itself, and positioning the laboratory to be a leader in solving the grand scientific and engineering challenges of our time. I am particularly excited to lead Argonne in developing transformational energy research and technologies.”

In 1988 Isaacs received a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the field of magnetic semiconductors and was a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories, studying magnetism and correlated electronic systems, mostly with synchrotron-based X-ray techniques. He worked at Bell Laboratories for 13 years as a member of the technical staff, director of the Materials Physics Research Department and director of the Semiconductor Physics Department.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and has served on a number of national scientific advisory committees, including the Department of Energy's Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee.

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