When William Brinkman retired in 2001 as head of analysis for
Bell Labs after 35 years with the corporate and joined the
Princeton College physics division, he thought that may
be his final job. Then Vitality Secretary Steven Chu, who as soon as
labored not directly for Brinkman on the fabled lab, contacted him
final month and the 70-year-old physicist determined to make one
extra profession transfer. “I imagine that, with the present folks in
this Administration, there’s a actual likelihood of change
taking place,” says Brinkman, who in any other case declined to remark
pending his affirmation.
On Friday, President Barack Obama tapped
Brinkman to be head of the Division of Vitality’s Workplace of
Science, which manages DOE’s $four.Eight-billion-a-year fundamental science
portfolio, together with its community of nationwide laboratories.
If confirmed, Brinkman would report back to Steven Koonin, who might
be confirmed as early as this week as undersecretary of
science. Colleagues say that Brinkman is an impressed selection.
“He brings an uncommon mixture of extraordinary scientific
perception and super administrative abilities,” says physicist
David Bishop, who was employed by Brinkman in 1978 proper out of
graduate faculty and is now the chief working officer for LGS
Improvements, a surviving piece of Bell Labs that carries out
authorities work. Bishop credit Brinkman for sustaining “an
impressed rear-guard holding motion … that saved the group
alive and centered” after the breakup of Bell Labs’ father or mother
firm and amid the altering world of telecommunications.
Princeton College physicist Philip Anderson remembers that
he and different Bell Labs scientists had been so impressed with
Brinkman’s mental potential that they held open a
place for him whereas he did a 1-year postdoc at Oxford
College. Within the 1970s, Brinkman labored on superfluid helium
with Anderson and Douglas Osheroff, each Nobelists however for
completely different discoveries, earlier than deciding to enter administration.
“I bear in mind him saying that he did not suppose he’d ever be a
nice theorist however that he might be an awesome supervisor,” Anderson
remembers. “I mentioned that was nonsense. However I additionally advised him I
thought he’d make an awesome supervisor.”
Brinkman was director of Bell Labs’ bodily analysis
laboratory when Chu joined one in every of its departments in 1978. In
the 1980s, Brinkman did a Three-year stint managing analysis at
DOE’s Sandia Nationwide Laboratories, then operated by AT&T.
Anderson says he expects Brinkman to proceed fastidiously with any
modifications on the Workplace of Science “as a result of he is aware of how
tough it’s to maneuver and alter DOE.” However Anderson predicts
that any strikes made by Brinkman will goal actual issues. “He
has particular concepts about what’s good and never good [about DOE],
and he is aware of the place the our bodies are buried.”
Source : http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2009/04/bell-labs-reunion-doe