Lab boss makes surprise exit
Feb 22, 2006
Praveen Chaudhari is to step down as director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory near New York at the end of April, a post he has held for three years. Chaudhari cited personal reasons for his unexpected decision, which was announced less than two weeks after US President George Bush put forward significant new funding for Brookhaven and other nuclear physics laboratories next year.
Life has not been easy for Brookhaven scientists since Chaudhari came to office in April 2003, having struggled in the face of continued funding cuts. A severe squeeze on the Department of Energy's Office of Science budget for nuclear physics in 2006 meant that Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) faced a reduction in its run time by about 60%. RHIC will only be able to operate at almost full capacity this year thanks to a last-minute gift from private industry, announced in January. This good news came shortly before the Bush Administration released its 2007 budget proposal, which contained a 24% rise in funding for nuclear physics. However, that budget must still be scrutinized by Congress, a process that takes many months.
The Indian-born Chaudhari received a PhD in physical metallurgy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966. He then spent 36 years at IBM, rising to the position of vice-president of science in 1982, before taking up his post at Brookhaven. He will stay on at Brookhaven to carry out research, stating in a press release issued by the laboratory that it is time "to spend more time at home and to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities to do science at Brookhaven."
About the author
Edwin Cartlidge is News Editor of Physics World