Dr. Michael Witherell is Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). He previously served as Vice Chancellor for Research for the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 2005-2014, during which time he also served as the Presidential Chair in the Physics Department. From 1999-2005, he served as Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the largest particle physics laboratory in the country. From 1981 to 1999, Dr. Witherell was a faculty member in the UCSB physics department.
Following a national search and acting on the recommendation of University of California President Napolitano, with the concurrence of U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the Board of Regents approved Witherell’s appointment as the eighth director of the Berkeley Lab. Dr. Witherell replaced Paul Alivisatos.
Michael Witherell is a leading physicist with a highly distinguished career in teaching, research and managing complex organizations. As director of the first Lab in the DOE’s National Lab system, Dr. Witherell supports the Lab’s world-renowned scientists and engineers as they search for solutions to the greatest technological challenges facing the nation, as well as for groundbreaking scientific discoveries that seed the future.
As an independent researcher, Dr. Witherell has done work in particle physics with accelerators at Brookhaven National Laboratory, at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), and at Cornell Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics, in addition to Fermilab. In 1990, his work on an experiment at Fermilab studying charm quarks brought him the prestigious W. K. H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics, awarded annually by the American Physical Society. In 2004 he received the U. S. Secretary of Energy’s Gold Award, the highest honorary award of the Department of Energy. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow both of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society.
Dr. Witherell graduated from the University of Michigan in 1968 and earned his doctorate in particle physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1973. He was a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor at Princeton University from 1973 to 1981.