Paul Alivisatos: Berkeley Lab director navigates uncertain times with a focus on research

Funding constraints have made the lab more efficient, and more focused on the fundamental mission that has led to 13 Nobel prizes.

30 May 2014

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 200-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 4,200 scientists, engineers, support staff and students.

Paul Alivisatos is an award-winning chemist and internationally recognized authority on the fabrication of nanocrystals and their use in solar energy applications. He was named the seventh Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in November, 2009 by the University of California Board of Regents.

As director of Berkeley Lab, Alivisatos supports the incredible range of research and technology development being pursued at Berkeley Lab in the interest of society. To lay the groundwork for large-scale accomplishment in the future, he has set forth four strategic scientific initiatives for the lab to pursue: Energy Innovation, a multidisciplinary approach for science and technology solutions that could move humanity toward net zero impact in the global carbon cycle; an early-stage proposal to upgrade the Advanced Light Source to the diffraction limit, achieving 100 times more brightness than the current photon imaging machine is capable of; a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and using microbial life for clean energy, environment, and health; and harnessing the computing and data revolution to greatly advance scientific discovery.

Alivisatos also holds appointments with UC Berkeley as the Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and as a professor in the departments of materials science and chemistry. He is the Director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley and a scientific founder of two prominent nanotechnology companies, Nanosys and Quantum Dot Corp, now a part of Invitrogen.

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