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Reiner Kruecken to Lead Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division

Nuclear physicist to lead storied division that is the home of 16 new elements

Reiner Kruecken

Credit: TRIUMF

Reiner Kruecken, a nuclear physicist and Deputy Director for Research at TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator center, has been selected to serve as the next Division Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Nuclear Science Division. His appointment will be effective in May. The announcement follows an international search.

Kruecken’s primary research focuses on the structure and dynamics of atomic nuclei, both in the laboratory and in space. He received his doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Cologne, Germany in 1995, working on gamma-ray spectroscopy. He followed that up with a postdoctoral research position at Berkeley Lab from 1995 to 1997, studying nuclear physics using the Gammasphere detector. Since then, he has worked across a broad spectrum of nuclear science, including exotic nuclei and nuclear astrophysics, neutrinoless double beta-decay, heavy-ion collisions, and applied nuclear physics. Over the course of his career, he has held faculty positions at Yale, then the Technical University of Munich, and currently at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“I’m excited that Reiner will soon be arriving to lead the Nuclear Science Division,” said Natalie Roe, Berkeley Lab’s Associate Laboratory Director for the Physical Sciences Area. “He is a highly respected scientist whose outstanding record of research in nuclear physics is well-aligned with the general direction of the Nuclear Science Division. Reiner has also played significant management roles at leading institutions in Germany and Canada. This combination of excellence in both science and scientific management is rare, so we are very fortunate indeed to have Reiner join us.”

“I’m very excited to return to Berkeley Lab after many years and am truly honored to be given the opportunity to lead the Nuclear Science Division,” said Kruecken. “It is one of the premier nuclear physics programs in the world, with an excellent team of talented people across all its programs. The division is very well positioned to lead major breakthroughs across the full breadth of nuclear science, driving discoveries on the structure of nuclei and nuclear matter and their role in the evolution of the universe, as well as utilizing nuclei as laboratories to study fundamental forces and applying nuclear science towards the benefit of humankind.”

Berkeley Lab has a long history of leadership in nuclear science, from the founding of the lab in 1931 to the present day. Technetium, the first fully synthetic element, was first created at Berkeley Lab in 1937, and since then the lab has been involved in the creation and discovery of 15 more elements and over 630 isotopes. Today, the Nuclear Science Division has major programs in low energy nuclear science, including nuclear structure physics, studies of the heaviest elements, exotic nuclei and light radioactive beams, weak interactions, and nuclear reactions; relativistic heavy ion physics; nuclear theory; nuclear astrophysics and neutrino properties; data evaluation; and advanced instrumentation. The division also operates the 88-Inch Cyclotron. The division is one of four divisions in Berkeley Lab’s Physical Sciences Area, which brings together scientists and engineers to explore interactions between matter and energy at scales ranging from the outermost reaches of the cosmos to the innermost confines of subatomic particles.

In 2019, Kruecken was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also chosen as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2017. At TRIUMF, he also served as the Science Division Head prior to being the Deputy Director of the facility. He sits on the Committee of Experts for the German Excellence Strategy, and is on numerous other scientific collaboration steering committees, advisory committees, and boards.

Kruecken has also done work in response to COVID-19, as part of an international team of nuclear and astroparticle physicists that developed and industrialized a new mechanical ventilator design in 2021.

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Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.