Charles Shank to Step Down As Berkeley Lab Director
BERKELEY, CAŚLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Charles V. Shank today announced his intention to leave his position by the end of the year. During his tenure, he oversaw tremendous scientific growth and achievement, expanding programs in astrophysics, computing, genomics, and nanoscience, and doubling the Laboratory’s budget. He joined Berkeley Lab and the University of California, Berkeley faculty in September, 1989.
“The opportunity to work with outstanding people in science at Berkeley Lab is unparalleled,” said Shank. “Through our work as a Department of Energy Office of Science Laboratory, we have made a great difference for the nation, opening new questions about energy in the universe, sequencing the human genome, developing nanoscience as a national endeavor, and achieving scientific discoveries through advanced computing. These advancements would not be possible without the dedicated support from the staff of the Laboratory, the University of California, and the Department of Energy.”
Shank will be returning to the Berkeley campus as a faculty member. He is a tenured professor in three departments—Physics, Chemistry, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
UC President Robert C. Dynes, in a prepared statement, said Director Shank “has made a major contribution to the cause of scientific advancement in this country. His leadership of Berkeley Lab for the last 15 years has played an important role in helping the laboratory achieve ever-increasing levels of scientific achievement and furthering its reputation as one of the world’s leading centers of technological excellence.”
"Throughout his tenure, Chuck Shank has provided scientific and managerial leadership at the highest standard of excellence at one of DOE's premier national laboratories," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. "As the longest serving DOE national laboratory director, Chuck Shank is looked up to as a leader by his peers at DOE's 16 other labs -- and respected by all those who have collaborated with him at the Department of Energy. He has overseen a major transformation of Berkeley Lab over the past 15 years. He deserves great credit for Berkeley Lab's rich legacy of scientific leadership, major research results, and important scientific facilities since 1989."
When he arrived at the Laboratory, the Advanced Light Source x-ray synchrotron was under construction. This year it completed its 10th anniversary with an extended energy range, a greatly expanded international user community, and complementary research that makes Berkeley a major center for x-ray science.
During Shank’s tenure, Berkeley Lab emerged as a leader in the field of supercomputing following the siting of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) here in 1996. Shank said he takes great satisfaction from having worked with the Livermore and Los Alamos laboratories on making the Joint Genome Institute a success. The JGI was a major member of the collaboration that last year announced the decoding of the human genome and is now one of the world leaders in DNA sequencing.
Other areas of accomplishment for the Lab under Shank’s leadership include nanoscience, with the groundbreaking held last week for the $85 million Molecular Foundry building; astrophysics, and the metamorphosis of the SuperNova Acceleration Probe (SNAP) into the Joint Dark Energy Mission, a joint DOE-NASA program; and biology, whose expanded thrust includes a new partnership with UC-San Francisco’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Reflecting on his 15 years at Berkeley Lab, Shank cites the great resilience of the Laboratory as one of its key strengths. “In the face of new challenges and expectations,” he says, “the Laboratory has raised the level of its performance.” He expresses pride in the Lab’s safety culture, and he praises the local Department of Energy site management office for its constructive oversight of the Laboratory.
Shank also highlights the special relationship with the UC Berkeley campus. “Over the years, we have had Chancellors who appreciated the role and value of the Laboratory, and Bob Berdahl stands out as one of the most enthusiastic,” he says, pointing as well to the strong Lab connections to both the San Francisco and Davis campuses. He also states that he is committed to seeing the Laboratory through the potential competition for the lab’s management contract.
The 60-year-old Shank is a nationally recognized scientist and research leader. During a 20-year career at AT&T Bell Labs, he held numerous leadership positions and was Director of the Electronics Research Laboratory just before returning to Berkeley. At Bell Labs, he made pioneering contributions to the study of ultrafast events that occur in a millionth of a billionth of a second using short laser pulses. He contributed to fiber optic communications with the co-invention of the distributed feedback laser, a component in high data rate transmission systems.
Among his numerous honors are membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Optical Society of America. He has been awarded the Charles H. Townes Award and R.W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America; the David Sarnoff and Morris E. Leeds awards of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; the Edgerton Award of the International Society for Optical Engineering; the John Scott Award; the Edward P. Longstreth Medal of the Franklin Society; and both the George E. Pake Prize and Arthur L. Schawlow Prize of the American Physical Society.
When Shank arrived at Berkeley Lab, its budget was approximately $229
million. Today, he oversees the oldest and most varied of the DOE’s
multi-program research laboratories, with a budget of nearly $500 million
and a workforce of approximately 4,000.