UC Regents Approve New Name for Lab: "Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory"

June 16, 1995

By Ron Kolb,

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, home of nine Nobel Prize winners over its 65 years of existence, will add "national" to its name to more accurately reflect the scope of work conducted at the East Bay research facility.

Laboratory Director Charles V. Shank received approval from the University of California Board of Regents on Friday, June 16 for the laboratory, managed by UC for the U.S. Department of Energy, to be officially known as the "Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory." The new name continues to acknowledge the lifelong achievements of the late Nobel Prize winner Ernest O. Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron that spawned modern high energy physics research, the discovery of many new elements, and nuclear medicine.

"At a time when government leaders and funding sources are demanding more relevance in scientific research, a laboratory's future depends upon its ability to convey distinction and quality," Shank said. "The 'Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory' projects excellence and scope in its identity. It continues to reflects its academic heritage and partnership with the Berkeley campus, and now it will highlight its commitment to respond to national needs -- a reality that can be lost if not stated specifically."

Shank pointed out that the Regents' action is a modest change, but one that clarifies the mission of the Berkeley laboratory, which has over the years evolved from a single-purpose high-energy physics center to a multi-program laboratory seeking answers to the country's most difficult scientific and technological challenges. He said its programs in detectors and accelerators (for example, the Advanced Light Source), advanced materials, biosciences and energy efficiency are focusing on today's national problems in technology and environmental quality.

Seven of the eight other multi-program laboratories in the DOE's network include "national" in their names (Pacific Northwest Laboratory is the only exception).

Shank described the action as a first step in the Laboratory's continuing process to establish and project a more distinctive identity to the general public and to decision-makers in Washington. He said the lab will next explore various options for a short common reference that will attempt to clarify public confusion about the three East Bay science facilities named after Lawrence -- Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Over the next several months, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will replace the familiar "LBL" acronym with "LBNL," to be used in text references and electronic mail addresses. However, Shank said he wants to ultimately replace the identity currently defined by initials with a simple title that distinguishes the Berkeley national laboratory from its scientific neighbors.

"Our laboratory is internationally known within the scientific community," the Director said, "but we have a confusing identity among the general public."

Lawrence was the founder of the "radiation laboratory" in 1931, a University-affiliated precursor to the present-day laboratory. Before that decade was over, he had developed a large-scale team approach to scientific research and technology development that is the hallmark of today's laboratory.

By 1936, the UC Regents recognized the laboratory's size and complexity as a separate and independent administrative unit of the physics department at Berkeley and officially named it "The Radiation Laboratory," with Lawrence as director. With the death of Lawrence in 1958, The Regents changed the "Rad Lab's" name to the "Lawrence Radiation Laboratory" in the founder's honor. And in 1971 they approved "Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory" and "Ernest Orlando Lawrence Livermore Laboratory" when the two units were separated administratively from the Berkeley campus.

The Berkeley laboratory's current examination of its identity is an outgrowth of its 1992 Strategic Plan and a subsequent year-long effort which produced a comprehensive Laboratory Communications Plan. The priority goal of that latter plan was to develop and promote "a distinctive identity and visibility," especially with local and national public constituents.

The Berkeley lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California.