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August 14, 2006

Berkeley Lab Names New Director for Advanced Light Source

BERKELEY, CA — Roger Falcone, 54, a physicist whose specialty is the use of ultrafast pulses of x-ray and laser light to study phenomena in condensed matter, molecular, and atomic physics, has been named the new director of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).  In addition to his award-winning research, Falcone has also been a strong advocate for science education.  He is a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, has worked extensively with the Lawrence Hall of Science’s K-12 programs, and served on the Lafayette School Board.

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Roger Falcone

“Roger Falcone has been a leader in the fields of ultrafast science and x-ray studies of advanced materials,” said Berkeley Lab director Steven Chu in announcing the appointment. “He has a broad understanding of the fields of interest to the ALS user community and is extremely well poised to lead the ALS into the future of soft x-ray science and technology. As former chair of the Physics Department at UC Berkeley, Roger has proven leadership experience. We look forward to a wonderful and exciting new era at the ALS under his direction."

Falcone succeeds Janos Kirz, who has been directing the ALS in an interim capacity since June of 2004, when he took up the reins of leadership on behalf of Daniel Chemla who was sidelined by illness.

“I am thrilled with this announcement!” said Kirz.  “Roger is superbly qualified for the job of ALS Director and a terrific choice to lead the ALS to even greater achievements.”

Berkeley Lab’s ALS is an electron synchrotron radiation source designed to accelerate electrons to relativistic speeds (near light speed) and energies of nearly two billion electron volts (2 GeV), focus them into a hair-thin beam, and send the beam around the curved path of a storage ring for several hours. Beams of photons, primarily x-rays, are extracted from the electron beam in the storage ring through use of bend, wiggler, or undulator magnetic devices.  These beams service a wide range of research, including protein crystallography, nanotechnology and femtosecond spectroscopy. 

As a U.S. Department of Energy national user facility, its research capabilities are available to qualified researchers throughout the nation and across the globe. Thousands of scientists have done research at the ALS since it was opened in 1993.

Falcone himself is a veteran user of the ALS.  Among other achievements, he was the co-author, along with Robert Schoenlein, of a proposal that brought in beamlines 6.0.1 and 6.0.2, dubbed the Ultrafast X-Ray Facility," which are optimized for the generation of femtosecond x-ray pulses.  A femtosecond represents one millionth of a billionth of a second, and is the timescale upon which chemical bonds are formed or broken, or materials transition from one phase to another. The Ultrafast X-Ray Facility is the first such facility at a synchrotron radiation source.

“I have been involved with the ALS as a user for ten years and with the Berkeley campus and lab community for over 20 years,” Falcone said. “I greatly enjoy working with the people here, from the staff to visiting scientists. We have an exceptionally committed and talented group at the ALS, and a world-class facility that our supporters in Washington recognize as a national treasure.”

Falcone’s undergraduate degree in physics was earned at Princeton University in 1974.  He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1976 and 1979 respectively.  Following a three year fellowship with the Applied Physics Department at Stanford, he joined the faculty of UC Berkeley’s Physics Department in 1983.  He rose quickly through the academic ranks, becoming a full professor in 1991, and serving as department chair from 1995-2000.  Currently, he is co-director of UC Berkeley’s participation in California Teach, a statewide program aimed at producing 1,000 new science and math teachers each year for the California K-12 classrooms. He is also the director of a new UC multicampus research program, the Institute for Materials Dynamics Under Extreme Conditions.  This program supports activities in ultrafast and high energy density sciences at all UC campuses and laboratories. Falcone is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Falcone and his wife, Pat, a senior engineering manager with Sandia National Laboratories, have lived in Lafayette since 1983.  Falcone has been active in local civic affairs, particularly with regards to education.  Currently he is helping to build a new Lafayette Library and Learning Center, which will host the Glenn Seaborg Learning Consortium.  This  collaboration between a dozen arts, education and cultural organizations is aimed at being a "national model" for libraries of the future.

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Falcone has also been an active member of the synchrotron light source community.  He became a faculty staff scientist at the ALS in 2004.  He also serves as a consultant for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chairs the science advisory committee for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), now being built at Stanford.  When completed in 2009, the LCLS will be the world's first x-ray free electron laser.

Falcone’s appointment as director of the ALS becomes effective September 1, 2006.

“I look forward to working to maintain our excellent current programs, and growing new programs in response to the needs of the scientific community,” Falcone said. “Directors Janos Kirz and Daniel Chemla have done an exceptional job of getting us to where we are now, and I plan to carry on in their tradition.”

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