August 13, 2015
Cherry Murray, former associate director at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been nominated by President Obama to head the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Murray, an experimental physicist, trained at MIT and worked at Bell Laboratories before coming to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2004. At Bell Labs , she conducted research and held a number of management positions including senior vice president for physical sciences.
At LLNL, she served as Principal Associate Director for Science and Technology. She became president of the American Physical Society in 2009, a year that also saw her leave for Cambridge to become dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
She served as dean for a 5-year term. Near the end of that time, in 2014, she was called to the White House to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. When her term as dean ended, she remained at Harvard as Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy as well as a professor of physics.
The Office of Science, the branch of the Department of Energy branch that Murray has been nominated to lead, is responsible for 10 major laboratories around the U.S. Its research is intentionally civilian in nature, in contrast to that of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the part of DOE that emphasizes nuclear weapons.
In the Bay Area, Office of Science laboratories include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford Laboratory Accelerator Center, now called SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The Office of Science has a budget of about $5 billion per year, with grants that support research across the country, including hundreds in California alone.
Senate confirmation of Murray ’s nomination is required but is not a sure thing. President Obama’s previous choice to lead the Office of Science, Marc Kastner, Dean of Science at MIT, was nominated in 2013 and never confirmed. He has since found another position as president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, an organization which supports basic research.
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