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October 13, 1997

Director appointed for Los Alamos Laboratory

By Rick Malaspina
UC Office of the President

Physicist John C. Browne was appointed director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory last week by the University of California, which manages the New Mexico facility for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Acting on the recommendation of UC President Richard C. Atkinson, the UC Board of Regents named Browne to the post, effective Nov. 3, in a special meeting conducted by teleconference. The DOE has concurred with the appointment.

Browne, 55, has held positions of scientific and administrative leadership at the laboratory for 18 years. He will be the laboratory's sixth director, succeeding Siegfried S. Hecker, who had planned to step down this month after nearly 12 years in the position. Hecker has agreed to stay on until the effective date of Browne's appointment to provide for an efficient transition.

"John Browne is a distinguished and widely respected scientist, an internationally recognized expert in neutron science, and a well-seasoned manager with a wealth of experience in the laboratory's critically important national security mission and its various programs," Atkinson said.

"He will bring to this position a strong commitment to continue the laboratory's superb scientific programs and to work with the university and the Department of Energy to strengthen the laboratory's relationships with its many constituent groups in northern New Mexico."

Browne said, "It is a great challenge to lead the laboratory at this important point in its history. Maintaining the safety, security, and reliability of the nation's nuclear stockpile under a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be a tough scientific and managerial undertaking, but I know the people at Los Alamos are up to the task.

"I also intend to focus on community relationships--including economic development--and safe and environmentally conscious operations," Browne added. "One of my goals is to engender pride in Los Alamos as a national scientific resource, as an employer, and as a neighbor."

Browne emerged as the first choice for laboratory director after an exhaustive national search by an advisory committee of Regents, scientists, and administrators. The committee consulted with a broad range of officials representing the DOE and the U.S. Department of Defense as well as leaders in the scientific and academic community. The search process also included meetings by the president and the advisory committee to hear from laboratory employees and representatives of key laboratory constituent groups.

As director, Browne will report to the UC president and have responsibility for the overall administrative and programmatic management of the laboratory. The director also must certify annually to the president of the United States the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons designed by the Los Alamos laboratory.

Managed by UC since its inception in 1943, the laboratory has grown over the years to become one of the world's foremost centers of multidisciplinary scientific and technological research and development. It has a UC workforce of about 7,000 scientists, engineers, and technical and support staff, about 3,000 subcontractor employees, and an annual federally funded operating budget of about $1.1 billion.

Browne currently is responsible for the scientific and operational management of the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE), one of the nation's premier facilities for neutron science research.

Browne joined the laboratory in 1979 after nine years in the physics program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, also managed by UC for the federal government.

At Los Alamos, Browne served in a succession of positions, including physics division leader and associate laboratory director in charge of several different areas from 1984 through 1992. As associate director for experimental physics, he was responsible for four technical divisions and programs in nuclear physics, magnetic fusion, and solid state physics.

Serving as associate director for research, he had responsibility for six technical divisions. He also was associate director for defense research and applications, overseeing four technical divisions and Department of Defense programs, as well as associate director for computational and informational sciences, a position responsible for five divisions and programmatic oversight of the laboratory's high-performance computing initiative, intelligence programs, and nonproliferation programs.

Browne has served on numerous laboratory programmatic oversight committees and a variety of external scientific and professional committees. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the author of numerous professional publications.

Browne received his bachelor's degree in physics from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA., and his Ph.D. in physics from Duke University in North Carolina.

In acting on the appointment, the Regents approved an annual salary for Browne of $230,000.

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