Physicist will be first female director of Stanford center

Physicist Persis Drell, the acting director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center since September, has been named to the position permanently. The center is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by Stanford. Drell, 51, becomes the fourth director in the center’s history and the first woman to hold the top job.

“Persis Drell is a distinguished and accomplished scientist who has graciously agreed to serve as director of DOE’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at this promising juncture in its history,” Under Secretary of Energy for Science Raymond Orbach said in a statement. “During Dr. Drell’s tenure as acting director, we have been impressed by both her vision of ‘one lab’ and her committed efforts to lead SLAC to achieve that vision. Now we look forward to working with Persis Drell and Stanford University as SLAC evolves to continue as a world leader in new areas of science and accelerator technology.”

Drell has been a professor at SLAC since 2002. She received her doctorate in atomic physics from the University of California, Berkeley.

The accelerator is a high-speed atom smasher that began operating in 1966. Several subatomic particles, including the quark, were discovered at SLAC. Three SLAC 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.

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