Daniel Chemla to Head Advanced Light Source

June 26, 1998

By Lynn Yarris, [email protected]

Daniel Chemla, director of the Materials Sciences Division and a physicist recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on the optical and electronic properties of materials, has been named to take on additional duties as director of the Advanced Light Source. Effective July 1, he will replace Brian Kincaid, who resigned the ALS directorship to pursue full-time scientific research.

Daniel Chemla
Daniel Chemla

In a Lab-wide announcement on June 15, Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank said that Kincaid was stepping down after six years at the ALS helm. In addition to naming Chemla to head the ALS division, Shank said that Neville Smith, the ALS scientific director, will now serve as deputy for the ALS scientific program, and Ben Feinberg will become the deputy for ALS operations.

"Together this team will provide the leadership necessary for the ALS going into the future," Shank said. "This is a critically important time in the history of the ALS, and all of us at the Laboratory have much to do to assure its continuing vitality, both scientifically and technologically."

Chemla has been the MSD director since 1991 when the old Materials and Chemical Sciences Division was reorganized into two separate divisions: MSD and the Chemical Sciences Division. He came to Berkeley Lab from AT&T Bell Laboratories where he had been a colleague of Shank's.

"I accepted this new job because I really care for the ALS and believe that it is an important asset for the Laboratory," said Chemla, adding that Shank has specifically charged him with keeping ALS and MSD as two separate divisions.

"There is some overlap of interests between the two divisions and there needs to be more synergy between them," he said. "My job is to harmonize these mutual research interests, not to merge the two divisions."

Chemla expects to direct both divisions for a few years, after which he intends to continue to direct MSD and to resume his teaching duties as a UC Berkeley physics professor. While heading the two divisions at Berkeley Lab, Chemla has been excused from his teaching duties on campus. He does, however, plan to continue his own vigorous research program.

The 57-year-old Chemla was a French national, born in Tunisia, who is now a U.S. citizen. He obtained his degrees, including his Ph.D. in non-linear optics, at the University of Paris. Although he began his studies as an elementary particle physicist, he switched to investigations into the interaction of laser radiation with matter. His focus became the study of "quantum size effects" on ultra-small material structures -- solids so small their physical properties become size-dependent.

"My personal field of research is non-linear optical spectroscopy. It involves observing the changes of optical properties of condensed matter brought about when it interacts with intense and ultrashort laser radiation," Chemla says.

In discussing his new duties at the ALS, Chemla paid tribute to former ALS director Kincaid.

"Brian did a terrific job as the ALS director and he has done a first-class job with helping me in this transition," Chemla said. Shank, too, had high praise for Kincaid. "We owe a great debt of gratitude to Brian, whose passionate commitment has always been to make the ALS a world-class facility."

Search | Home | Questions