Stanford University President John Hennessy today appointed Persis Drell as the acting director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
Drell is the first woman ever to serve as the center's director. She has been at SLAC since 2002. She received her doctorate in atomic physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1983.
Drell replaces Jonathan Dorfan, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down to become an assistant to Hennessy. In his new role, Dorfan will focus on SLAC's relationship to the university and the renewal of Stanford's contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to oversee SLAC.
"As director, Jonathan has amplified the interaction between SLAC and the main campus, making it an ever more important asset to the university. He is the perfect person to help us cement that relationship," Hennessy said. "I also appreciate Persis' willingness to lead SLAC at this critical time. I am confident that she will not only maintain but accelerate the changes Jonathan has initiated."
Stanford's agreement with the Energy Department expires at the end if this month but the department has indicated it will grant Stanford a two-year extension while a search for a long-term center manager is conducted.
The accelerator is a high-speed atom smasher that began operating in 1966. Several subatomic particles, including the quark, were discovered at SLAC. Three physicists, Burton Richter in 1976, Richard Taylor in 1990 and Martin Perl in 1995, have won Nobel Prizes for discoveries they made using the accelerator. SLAC also created the first World Wide Web site in North America in 1991.