Rosner named Director of Argonne
The University has appointed Robert Rosner to the directorship of Argonne National Laboratory effective Monday, April 18. His appointment was approved by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.
Rosner succeeds Hermann Grunder, who has served as Director of the laboratory since 2000.
“Robert Rosner is a distinguished scientist who has already made major contributions to the laboratory, and I am confident he is the right man for this job,” Secretary Bodman said. “His scientific accomplishments and leadership will build on Dr. Grunder’s outstanding work and ensure that DOE’s labs continue to contribute to a better tomorrow.”
Rosner has served as Argonne’s Associate Laboratory Director for physical, biological and computing sciences and as its Chief Scientist since 2002, and in those roles he implemented reinvigorating changes in multiple areas of research while also achieving an outstanding record in safety and security, according to President Randel. In addition, he was the architect of Argonne’s 20-year strategic plan for science and technology.
“Bob is a distinguished computational astrophysicist with broad interests across the basic and applied sciences and extensive Department of Energy experience,” Randel said. “I am confident that Bob will provide decisive leadership and insightful strategic vision for Argonne, while developing the effective partnerships between the department, other government agencies, industry and academia that have become so important to the scientific future of the nation.”
Rosner’s appointment culminates a six-month national search by a search committee comprising representatives from the University, Argonne and industry. Chairing the committee was Harvey Plotnick, a University Trustee and a member of Argonne’s Board of Governors.
Said Rosner, “I am honored to have been asked to serve as Director of Argonne, a national laboratory of great distinction, with a wonderful tradition of first-rate science and technology research and a scientific, technical and support staff second to none. It is humbling, and a challenge for me personally, to follow a succession of remarkably capable Argonne Laboratory directors, from the first director—Enrico Fermi—to my immediate predecessor, Hermann Grunder. The future of this laboratory is very bright—we are recognized leaders in much of the science and technology that makes the United States competitive in the 21st-century global economy. I look forward to working closely with the Department of Energy, the University of Chicago and the terrific staff of the laboratory in pushing the frontiers in all of these areas, and enjoying every bit of it!”
As Chief Scientist at Argonne, Rosner oversaw the laboratory’s scientific programs and research and planning activities, and served as the chief proponent of collaborations between Argonne and Chicago, other universities and other national laboratories.
As Associate Laboratory Director, he led an organization consisting of eight divisions and four national user facilities, with an annual budget of more than $200 million and a staff of more than 800 scientific and engineering personnel. In the area of high-energy physics, he was instrumental in the creation of the Accelerator Institute, addressing one of the “Grand Challenges” of the DOE Office of Science.
Rosner also is the William Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Last autumn he was the Rothschild visiting professor at the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University. His scientific specialty is plasma astrophysics—the physics of the sun and the stars—and he has been instrumental in establishing the University as one of the world’s leading centers in that field. He also led the collaboration of Argonne and University scientists who created the Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes and directed the center from its founding in 1997 to 2002. The center develops simulations of exploding stars with computer codes that can be adapted for application to other fields and is funded by the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
Randel said that Grunder, who served as Laboratory Director for the past four years and who will be named Director Emeritus, “leaves an indelible stamp on a great institution, for which I am personally very grateful. He will be missed, and his legacy will be felt for many years.”
As a result of Grunder’s initiatives, working with University Vice President for Research and Argonne Laboratory Thomas Rosenbaum, the University and Argonne established joint centers and institutes in a variety of areas. In close collaboration with Rosner, Grunder led efforts on the Center for Nanoscale Materials, the Theory and Computational Science Building, and the Rare Isotope Accelerator. On the national level, Grunder led multi-lab consortia that drafted national roadmaps for nuclear energy and advanced computational science.
Argonne was the nation’s first national laboratory, chartered in 1946. An annual operating budget of $475 million supports the work of approximately 2,700 employees on the Argonne campus, located 25 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
The University has been Argonne’s manager and partner throughout its history. Argonne was formed in 1946 as an outgrowth of the Manhattan Project’s Metallurgical Laboratory at the University, which in 1942 produced the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.
Today, Argonne performs research in basic science, including experimental and theoretical work in materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, high-energy physics, mathematics and computer science; energy resources; environmental management; transportation; and national security.
Argonne also designs, builds, operates and manages many scientific and engineering research facilities and makes them available to outside researchers from industry, academia and other government laboratories. Six of these facilities are official U.S. Department of Energy National User Facilities or User Centers. The department’s Office of Science is the steward of 10 national laboratories in the national laboratory system, including Argonne.