Pier Oddone of Berkeley Lab Named Fermilab Director

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Pier Oddone

Pier Oddone

Batavia, Ill.- Officials of Universities Research Association, the consortium of universities that operates the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, today (November 19) announced the appointment of Piermaria Oddone as Fermilab’s fifth director. Acting on the recommendation of its Board of Overseers and with the approval of Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, URA’s Board of Trustees appointed Oddone to succeed Fermilab’s current director, Michael Witherell, on July 1, 2005. Witherell announced in October 2003 that he would serve as Fermilab director through June 2005.

URA President Frederick M. Bernthal announced the appointment of Oddone, a physicist who is currently deputy director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he is responsible for scientific programs and oversees major laboratory initiatives and strategic planning.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Pier Oddone to be Fermilab’s next director,” Bernthal said. “His stature as a distinguished particle physicist, his experience in the scientific operation of another great national laboratory and his leadership abilities make him extremely well suited to keep Fermilab at the forefront of scientific excellence and to guide the lab during the critical years ahead.”

Oddone, 60, said he looks forward to the opportunity to serve as Fermilab’s director at a key moment for the field of high-energy physics and for the laboratory.

“We are living in a time of remarkable opportunity for particle physics,” Oddone said. “The next few years will bring a revolution in our understanding of the universe. As one of the world’s great physics laboratories, Fermilab will make vital contributions to the discoveries ahead. I am excited and honored to lead this unique laboratory during such an extraordinary era.”

Raymond L. Orbach, director of the federal Department of Energy’s Office of Science, called Oddone superbly qualified to guide Fermilab into the future.

“We are very fortunate that Pier Oddone will become the next director of Fermilab,” Orbach said. “He is an outstanding scientist and a proven leader and manager whose appointment serves Fermilab, the Office of Science and the nation well. We are indebted to Fermilab’s current director Michael Witherell for his leadership and accomplishments. Pier Oddone will be a worthy successor.”

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham recently honored Witherell with the Secretary’s Gold Award “for outstanding leadership combining excellence in science with excellence in safety” during his tenure as Fermilab’s director since 1999. Witherell will become vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in July 2005. He praised Oddone’s appointment as his successor.

“I am very pleased that Pier Oddone has agreed to be the next Fermilab director.” Witherell said. “I have had the pleasure of knowing him as a friend and colleague for many years. Pier is a superb physicist who has years of experience managing science at another great laboratory. He understands that the advance of particle physics in the U.S. and in the world depends on strong leadership from Fermilab. This is a terrific choice. I look forward to working closely with him during the months ahead to ensure a smooth transition.”

Oddone’s appointment concluded a five-month search for a Fermilab director by a 19-member committee led by former Presidential Science Advisor Neal Lane of Rice University. In October, the search committee presented its results to URA’s Board of Overseers, chaired by Cornell University physicist Donald Hartill.

“Pier is enthusiastic about the opportunity to lead Fermilab,” Hartill said. “His experience in managing the diverse and outstanding scientific research programs at Berkeley Lab is a strong asset. With that experience and his strong scientific background, Fermilab is in good hands and will continue to play a key and leading role in the world of particle physics.”

Oddone, a U.S. citizen, was born in Peru and speaks fluent Spanish and Italian. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, Oddone moved to the Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab, where he worked on experiments there and at DOE’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in nearby Palo Alto. Oddone was director of the Physics Division at Berkeley Lab from 1987-91 and has been deputy director of the laboratory since 1989. Oddone is well known as the inventor of the Asymmetric B-Factory, a new kind of particle collider designed to study the difference between matter and antimatter. B factories are currently operating at both SLAC and KEK laboratory in Japan. Oddone was a founding member of SLAC’s BaBar collaboration, which, along with KEK’s Belle collaboration, discovered the existence of matter-antimatter asymmetry in particles known as B mesons. Oddone is the recipient of the 2005 Panofsky Prize for the invention of the Asymmetric B-Factory.

Oddone is married to Barbara S. de Oddone, Esq., an attorney. They are the parents of Gian Michele and Alessandra. After many years in California, Oddone said that he and his wife look forward to getting to know the Chicago area.

Fermilab is operated by Universities Research Association, Inc, a consortium of 90 research universities that has operated Fermilab under a contract with the Department of Energy since the laboratory’s founding in 1967. The Department’s Office of Science is the steward of 10 national laboratories in the national laboratory system, including Fermilab.