Steven Chu named head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The first Asian American has been named to run a U.S. national laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Berkeley hills. The University of California regents voted Thursday to choose Steven Chu, 55, a witty, self-deprecating Stanford University professor and Nobel Prize winner in physics, to be the sixth director of the 4,000-employee lab. Chu starts his new job August 1.

With an annual budget in excess of a half-billion dollars, the Lawrence Berkeley lab is a breeding ground for Nobelists and one of the most prestigious scientific facilities in the world.

The choice of Chu puts Lawrence Berkeley in a "very strong position" to compete for the next U.S. Energy Department management contract for running the lab, should the regents decide to join the competition, UC President Robert Dynes said at a news conference at the lab.

Chu replaces outgoing director Charles Shank, who managed the lab for 15 years and was Chu's boss at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey from 1983 to 1987. (Source: Keay Davidson, San Francisco Chronicle, June 18, 2004)

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