Pennington To Lead Jefferson Lab Theory Center

dph0mrp.jpgNEWPORT NEWS, VA – After an extensive international search, the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has selected Michael R. Pennington, an internationally known physicist, as Associate Director for Theoretical and Computational Physics.

Pennington is currently a Professor of Mathematical Sciences & Physics and Dean for Educational Outreach at the Durham University in England. Since 2007, Pennington also has served as a member of Jefferson Lab's Program Advisory Committee, a panel of world-leading physicists that reviews and selects experiments to be conducted at the laboratory.

 "All of us at the lab feel extremely fortunate and pleased that Mike has agreed to join our staff of outstanding physicists," said Hugh Montgomery, Jefferson Lab's director. "We believe that his experience, knowledge and standing within the international scientific community will make it possible for our Theory Center and the laboratory to remain in the forefront of nuclear physics research."

Pennington, who will begin his duties at Jefferson Lab on July 1, will succeed David Richards, who has been serving as the laboratory's interim head of theory since October.

"I have been an admirer of Jefferson Lab for some time, and it is a great honor for me to have been selected as the laboratory's next director of theory," Pennington said. "It's an especially exciting time to join the lab as it constructs its 12 GeV Upgrade and prepares for a future of potentially groundbreaking research."

Pennington, whose research focus is in the theoretical and phenomenological study of the strong nuclear force, has more than 185 publications to his credit. In addition to his work for Jefferson Lab, he has served a variety of international science groups, including participation as a member of the CERN SPS Committee and as a member of the DAΦNE Physics Working Group in Frascati, Italy. In 2009, he was named an Outstanding Referee by the American Institute of Physics.

Pennington joined Durham University in 1978. Since that time, he has held many leadership positions at the university, including serving as head of the Department of Physics from 1999-2003, chair of the Physics Teaching & Learning Committee from 1999-2001 and chair of the University IT Strategy Working Group from 2007-2008. He has been Dean for Educational Outreach since 2008.

In his outstanding career, Pennington also has served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Adelaide from 1998-1999 and as a visiting scientist and Fulbright Scholar in the High Energy Theory Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY. He also has been a fellow in the Theory Division at CERN, a research associate at Rutherford Laboratory in England and a physicist in the High Energy Theory Group at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, CA.  

Pennington was awarded his bachelor's degree in mathematical physics in 1968 from the University of Edinburgh. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1971 from Westfield College, University of London.

Jefferson Lab is a world-leading nuclear physics research laboratory devoted to the study of the building blocks of matter - quarks and gluons - that make up 99 percent of the mass of our everyday world. It is one of 17 Department of Energy national research laboratories and facilities. The laboratory is managed and operated by Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, for the DOE's Office of Science.

The members of the search committee that selected Pennington included: George Sterman (chair), Distinguished Professor and director of the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at SUNY Stony Brook; David Kaplan, a physics professor and director of the Institute for Nuclear Theory, University of Washington; Witold Nazarewicz, a physics professor at the University of Tennessee and Warsaw University, Poland, and  Scientific Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility; Lawrence S. Cardman, associate director for experimental nuclear physics at Jefferson Lab; Christian Weiss, a theoretical physicist at Jefferson Lab; and Latifa Elouadrhiri, a research physicist at Jefferson Lab.


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).

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