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Jonathan Dorfan
Director Emeritus, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

Jonathan Dorfan became the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center's third Director on September 1, 1999. An internationally recognized physicist, he was previously associate director of SLAC and head of its B-factory project.

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Dorfan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town in 1969. He and Renee Bing, also from Cape Town, married one week later and moved to the United States where Dorfan earned his doctorate in experimental particle physics from the University of California-Irvine. As a first-year graduate student, Dorfan worked at SLAC as a summer hire doing superconducting magnet cooling calculations for Hab Brechna. Two years later, he and Renee moved to Palo Alto when Dorfan joined SLAC experiment E92 as a graduate student. Upon completion of his thesis in 1976, Dorfan joined SLAC as a postdoc and two years later as a staff scientist working under Martin Perl and Burton Richter. Dorfan was promoted to associate professor in 1984, full professor in 1989 and associate director in 1994.

Prior to becoming Director, his research interests focused on experimental particle physics and accelerator design. He was spokesman for the Mark-II detector collaboration at the Positron Electron Project (PEP) and the Stanford Linear Collider (SLC). One of his physics foci was establishing the existence of the Cabibbo-allowed and Cabibbo-suppressed hadronic decay modes of the Tau lepton. Dorfan lead the team that designed the SLAC B-Factory. He was project director for the construction of the B Factory accelerator complex, PEP-II, and technical coordinator for the last few years of construction of the associated detector, BaBar. Along with many others, Dorfan helped to architect the formation of the ten-nation BaBar collaboration. Dorfan became Director of the laboratory in 1999, the same year that B-factory operations began.

As SLAC's Director, Dorfan managed the most important transition in the history of the laboratory. Traditionally a single-purpose, particle physics research center, SLAC has become a multi-program laboratory, whose largest program in 2009 will be in Photon Science. Anchoring SLAC's emergence as a world-leading center for photon science are SPEAR3, an upgrade of the SPEAR synchrotron radiation facility completed in 2005, and the world's first X-ray free electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source, currently under construction at SLAC and slated to begin science in 2009. Dorfan took his idea for a particle astrophysics institute and initiated what has become the Kavli Institute of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a new force in particle astrophysics. Construction of the revolutionary instrument, the Gamma Ray Large Area Telescope, a groundbreaking collaboration between the Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA, began and was completed during Dorfan's tenure.

SLAC continues to be a prominent leader in the field of particle physics with the B-factory and research and development for the International Linear Collider. Dorfan's scientific statesmanship as Chairman of the International Committee for Future Accelerators laid down the international management framework and collaboration model that has since proven crucial to the continued momentum of the project.

Dorfan has strengthened SLAC's integration with Stanford University, developing a new concept of Stanford Institutes located at SLAC. The Photon Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering (PULSE), KIPAC, and the X-ray Laboratory for Advanced Materials (XLAM) are the first examples.

Dorfan has been a champion of maintaining the open research environment while ensuring that national security imperatives are protected. He has placed a strong emphasis at SLAC on recognition and support for staff at all levels by introducing programs like the Respectful Workplace Policy and the Employee Recognition Awards.

Dorfan is a Fellow of the American Association of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society (APS). He has served on the APS Division of Particles and Fields Executive Board, the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel, the SLAC experimental Program Advisory Committee, the Advisory Board of the Theoretical Advanced Study Institute, the Particle Data Group Advisory Board (including one year as chair), and as an editor for Cambridge Press. He currently serves on many advisory and oversight boards including the Board of Governors of the Weizmann Institute, the Advisory Council for Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany , the International Committee for Future Accelerators, and the National Research Council Advisory Committee on TRIUMF.

Jonathan and Renee Dorfan have two children, Nicole and Rachel.

Research Interests

Experimental Elementary Particle Physics

Advanced Accelerator Design

Director's Column Archive
SLAC Today: 11/27/2006
Competing DOE Laboratory Contracts
Some of you may have read the November 17th press release in which the Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans for competing the contracts of another three of its National Laboratories, including SLAC. You may also have seen the article in the SF Chronicle on November 18th specially discussing the SLAC contract renewal. The choice to compete our contract did not come as a suprise and Stanford has been taking active steps to prepare for this eventuality. more »

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