WASHINGTON - Jefferson Lab will have a new director in September after a year-long search.
Hugh Montgomery, associate director for research at a Department of Energy laboratory in Illinois, will oversee a workforce of 700 at the Newport News nuclear physics lab.
The appointment came one year after the lab's current director, Christoph Leemann, announced his decision to step down. Leemann, who has served as director since 2000, will retain the title of director-emeritus.
Montgomery, 60, also will serve as president of Jefferson Science Associates, the group created to manage and operate Jefferson Lab.
John Casteen, president of the University of Virginia and chairman of JSA's board of directors, praised Montgomery as "both a distinguished scientist and an experienced leader and manager within the laboratory system."
Montgomery, who has a Ph.D. in physics from Manchester University in England, oversees research in particle physics at the Energy Department's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.
"After almost 25 years at Fermilab, this move certainly represents a major change in my life," Montgomery said in a written statement. "The new position will be an enormous challenge for me but also an enormous opportunity to which I am looking forward."
He added, "I hope I prove worthy of the great team at Jefferson."
Jefferson Lab, more formally called the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, acts essentially as a high-powered microscope to peer into the nucleus of the atom to better understand matter.
President Bush's 2009 budget calls for spending $128.5 million on Jefferson Lab, an increase of nearly 30 percent from this year's level. Most of the increase would be used to begin work on a $310 million project to double the power of the accelerator by 2013.
The lab, built in 1984, is owned by the Department of Energy but has been run by a private contractor. Until 2006, the lab was managed by Southeastern Universities Research Association, or SURA, a consortium of more than 60 research institutions. Two years ago, the Energy Department awarded the management contract to Jefferson Science Associates, a joint venture between SURA and Computer Sciences Corp. A SURA spokesman said the group does not disclose the salaries of lab officials.
In a written statement, the head of the Energy Department's science office praised Montgomery's appointment to Jefferson Lab.
"Hugh Montgomery is a superb choice for the laboratory," said Raymond Orbach, undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy. "I am confident that under Dr. Montgomery, Jefferson Lab will continue its outstanding scientific leadership."
Submitted: Thursday, April 3, 2008 - 12:00am