Praveen Chaudhari joined IBM in 1966, working initially at the T J Watson Research Center in New York. He was appointed director of physical science in 1981 and was made vice-president for science a year later, responsible for the Watson centre and the company's other main labs in California and Switzerland. He returned to full-time research in 1991. With a doctorate in physical metallurgy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chaudhari has published over 160 research articles in condensed-matter and materials physics and holds 22 patents

Brookhaven is one of ten national laboratories funded by the US Department of Energy. It employs more than 2800 staff and has an annual budget of $463m. It carries out a wide range of research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences. It is also the site of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), which aims to create and study quark-gluon plasmas. Brookhaven has been run by interim director Peter Paul since October 2001.