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JoAnne Hewett

First-place teams advance to the National Science Bowl finals in April

Students from Hunter College Middle School and Ward Melville High School are headed to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Science Bowl this spring after earning the top spots in the Long Island Regional Middle School and High School Science Bowl competitions hosted by DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory on Feb. 1 and 2.

These are repeat wins for both schools, who were named regional champions in the fast-paced question-and-answer academic tournament last year. The Science Bowl tests students’ split-second knowledge on a range of science disciplines including chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and general, earth, and computer science.

“We love hosting the Science Bowl competitions and welcoming the top STEM students from our region,” said Amanda Horn, a Brookhaven Lab educator who coordinated the events. “We are always impressed by the level of competition for both competitions. It was especially exciting to welcome many additional students and new teams this year for our biggest Science Bowl ever. We couldn’t do it without our amazing volunteers!”

The first-place teams win an all-expense paid trip to the National Science Bowl where they will face teams from around the country, plus a trophy and banner to display at their schools. All prizes and giveaways are courtesy of the event’s sponsors, Brookhaven Science Associates and Teachers Federal Credit Union.

The National Science Bowl finals are scheduled to take place April 25-29 near Washington, D.C.

“I really do love this event and each and every year I’m just overwhelmed and amazed at how much you guys know,” Brookhaven Lab Director JoAnne Hewett, who addressed high schoolers before their competition kicked off on Feb. 2.

While this marked Hewett’s first Science Bowl at Brookhaven since joining the Lab last summer, she noted that she previously participated in DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s regional competition each year since it began in 2010 and proudly donned last year’s t-shirt to prove it.

“It’s just wonderful the education that you’re getting, and more importantly, the interest in learning, because that’s the thing that will carry you though life, is if you never give up that interest in learning and being brave and going out and answering questions that you may or may not know the answer to,” Hewett said. Horn presented Hewett with Brookhaven’s 2024 Science Bowl t-shirt to welcome her to the Lab’s Science Bowl team.

Middle School Regional Champions: Hunter College Middle School (from left to right) Benjamin Muchnik, Andres Fischer, Camille Pimentel, Aria Kana, Hudson Reich. (David Rahner/Brookhaven National Laboratory)
Middle School Top Four

The Middle School competition hosted teams from Long Island and New York City, with 100 students representing 20 teams and 16 middle schools.

Hunter College Middle School earned the regional champion title for the third year in a year, with zero losses throughout the competition day.

“Last year, going to nationals really motivated me to keep going and study for regionals,” Hunter College co-captain Andres Fischer said, “I’m really glad that we got to make here and do well. I’m proud of the rest of us who weren’t here last year—I think we make a really good team.”

Lots of preparation, plus a supportive team, helped secure the win, according to co-captain Camille Pimentel.

“We studied a lot, so we read lots of books and stuff—it was a lot of work,” Pimentel said. “We also meet weekly to practice.”

The team will again study hard for nationals, where they will have another chance to compete and enjoy its famous free soft-serve ice cream machine.

1st Place: Hunter College Middle School — Andres Fischer, Camille Pimentel, Hudson Reich, Aria Kana. Benjamin Muchnik

2nd Place: Great Neck South Middle School — Aaron Son, Eric Zhuang, Andy Zhuang, Jayden Jiang, Michael Sun

3rd Place: Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School — Valentina Trajkovic, Aydin Erdonmez, Tony Xu, Terrence Wang, Victoria Chen

4th Place: NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies – Ameena Elshaar, Ryan Casey, Qi Lin Wu, Nikki Perlman, Ayden Jiang

Middle School Regional Champions: Hunter College Middle School (from left to right) Benjamin Muchnik, Andres Fischer, Camille Pimentel, Aria Kana, Hudson Reich. (David Rahner/Brookhaven National Laboratory)
High School Top Four

This year’s high school Science Bowl shaped up to be the largest ever hosted by Brookhaven Lab with 30 teams and 150 students.

“We were fortunate to kind of have the stars aligned with our team composition,” Ward Melville captain Michael Melikyan said. The team had members who specialized in two science subjects at once,

“I’d like to thank our coach, he’s been absolutely amazing, and this has been a phenomenal thing,” Melikyan added. “We’re grateful to Brookhaven Lab for hosting this.”

1st Place: Ward Melville High School — Rithik Sogal, Harry Gao, Anna Xing, Michael Melikyan, Sean Skinner

2nd Place: Great Neck South High School — Brandon Kim, Erin Wong, Laura Zhang, Luke Huang, Allen Vee

3rd Place: Half Hollow Hills High School East — Aidan Joseph, Stasya Selizhuk, Rishi Aravind, Jack Goldfried, Alexandra Lerner

4th Place: William Floyd High School — Alice Chen, Anjel Suarez, Jason Alexopoulos, Joshua Schultzer, Zariel Macchia

STEM Challenge, Expo, and Tour

The science fun didn’t stop throughout the competition days—with a STEM Expo tour, and science challenge organized by the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs. 

Staff and students from across Brookhaven Lab’s departments offered hands-on science demonstrations that included a look at how particles are kept in a circular path in accelerators, a cloud chamber that revealed charged particle tracks, an overview of medical isotopes, machine learning techniques, and more.

Teams that did not advance to the double elimination rounds enjoyed a tour of the National Synchrotron Light Source II—a DOE Office of Science user facility that creates light beams 10 billion times bright than the sun, directing them towards specialized beamlines that reveal material structures and chemical changes.

Students also joined a timed STEM Challenge in which they solved tricky science and math puzzles to break several locks on boxes filled with treats.

Middle School STEM Challenge winners: 1st place: Stimson Middle School Team 1, 2nd place: Sayville Middle School, 3rd place: R.C. Murphy Junior High School Team 1

High School STEM Challenge winners: 1st place: Jericho Senior High School, 2nd place: Plainedge Senior High School, 3rd place: Bellport High School

An Introduction to a National Lab

The regional Science Bowl is one of many ways Brookhaven Lab introduces students to its science goals, researchers, facilities, and learning opportunities each year—in hopes that they will return to the national lab system one day as the next generation of scientists.

“We really need an energetic new generation workforce to come to Brookhaven and bring us all the talent that you have and all your inquisitiveness—that’s what we need in science, inquisitiveness,” Hewett said.

At the start of both competition days Gary Olson, deputy site manager at the Brookhaven Site Office, shared an overview of Brookhaven’s world-class science tools, discoveries, and research.

“This could be the start of a STEM journey for you,” Olson said, adding that there are also training opportunities available for teachers.

On Feb. 1, middle schoolers heard from Brookhaven Lab physicist Mary Bishai about her own STEM journey. Bishai is a co-spokesperson for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE)—an experimented based at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory that will send intense beams of neutrinos through 800 miles of Earth’s crust to capture signals that may reveal neutrino characteristics. Bishai shared her career path in particle physics and the Lab’s work, past and present, to better understand neutrinos—ghostlike particles that travel at nearly the speed of light.

Students also met Lab science and support staff from across departments, retirees, and former Science Bowl competitors who served as volunteers—many of whom return year after year. Approximately 90 volunteers joined the two competition days in roles as judges, scorekeepers, and support.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The 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, visit science.energy.gov.

JoAnne Hewett leads her first staff meeting as the new lab director at Brookhaven National Laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 8. File photo from BNL

By Daniel Dunaief

JoAnne Hewett hit the ground running when she arrived at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

She had no choice.

On her first day, Hewett, who is the first woman to lead the Department of Energy lab in its 76-year history, had to decide how to handle a technical problem at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a machine that collides heavy beams of ions traveling around a 2.4-mile track.

Hewett, who is a theoretical physicist and had worked as associate lab director for fundamental physics and chief research at SLAC at Stanford University, was “able to grasp everything very quickly,” said Haiyan Gao, associate lab director for Nuclear and Particle Physics at BNL.

BNL decided to end its run of experiments on Aug. 4, earlier than the original plan for the end of September. It took some time to determine the root cause of the problem, which, fortunately, turned out to be a singular event and not a failure of the system.

Gao found it “quite refreshing in the sense that [Hewett] was very interested in the experimental, technical part” of the decision and called it “the right call.”

After arriving at BNL in August, Hewett has impressed many of the staff at BNL and is developing plans for the lab that extend into the next decade and beyond.

TBR News Media is pleased to name Hewett, who is a leader, an inspirational role model and a “people person,” as a 2023 Person of the Year.

In an interview, Hewett described an active first few days on the job.

“There’s nothing like a good initiation,” Hewett said. “Because I do have a collider and accelerator background, it was an easy decision to make.”

RHIC is planning to restart in March, which is about a month behind the normal schedule. Hewett expects the ion collider to get a full run for fiscal year 2024.

‘A breath of fresh air’

Having a new leader at the lab who does things differently “gets noticed,” said John Hill, the deputy director for science and technology. “She’s a breath of fresh air.”

Indeed, one of Hewett’s priorities has been to meet with all the technicians at the lab. She schedules group interactions where she talks with about 10 people at a time.

In addition to listening to the perspective of other BNL staff, Hewett wants “people to be enthusiastic here,” said Luisella Lari, project manager for the Electron-Ion Collider and senior scientist at BNL. “She takes time to explain the vision.”

Hewett’s approach, which includes a focus on the work and on the people who make the science possible, “makes me feel sure she is on our side” as an advocate, Lari added.

The new BNL lab director appreciates the pride people take in their work and in the effort to make contributions to everything from basic science to applied research that has the potential to contribute to new technology and to provide solutions for various challenges.

“People love their contribution to the big science mission,” said Hewett. “No matter what their role is, they understand that their contribution is important. We can’t get science out the door without them.”

Hewett wasn’t surprised to hear suggestions for ways to improve the lives of people at BNL. At the top of many people’s lists was reopening the cafeteria, which has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re working very hard to get that open,” said Hewett.

Scientific goals

Top administrators at BNL appreciate Hewett’s long-range focus on improving the science and enhancing the equipment that makes discoveries possible.

Home to the National Synchrotron Lightsource II, which cost about $1 billion to make and was completed in 2015, BNL is focused on opportunities to upgrade a facility that can look at the inner workings of batteries while they are working or explore the interplay between the structure and function of important enzymes.

One of Hewett’s first questions to Hill was “what do you think about an upgrade,” he recalled. Hill said when it was first built, the NSLS-II was the brightest in the world, and now one or two other synchrotrons are brighter. She wanted to upgrade it to “keep its competitive edge.”

Hewett explained that the NSLS-II has the capacity for 60 beamlines. BNL has built 32 and is either constructing or planning another 12 to 15, which leaves room to plan and build 15 additional beamlines.

“Finishing that out is important,” said Hewett.

At the same time, BNL will be holding science workshops to determine which of the accelerator physics options makes sense. Hewett is also focused on enhancing the lab’s computing power.

“All science is data science,” she said. “We work so hard to create the data, we have to make sure we record and process it. If you don’t do that, you might as well not have run the facility.”

BNL just signed a funding request for a series of planned upgrades.

Hill is developing a year-long computational strategy, which includes a focus on the needs for the facility for the next 10 years.

One of the biggest appeals of coming to BNL for Hewett and for other scientists around the country and the world is the Electron-Ion Collider.

BNL won a competition to build the EIC on Long Island, with the help of Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator in Virginia. By colliding electrons and protons, the EIC will reveal how the subunits of protons and neutrons in the nucleus — the quarks and gluons — come together to help generate mass in visible matter.

Hewett is “heavily involved in the EIC, making sure we can deliver on that,” said Hill.

Recently, the Department of Energy passed a critical design landmark, which provides a green light to make long lead procurement items. Specifically, BNL received the authority to spend $100 million on items for construction of the collider that will take years to procure.

This, Hewett explained, is the approval before a funding baseline and schedule for the project.

“These take so long to order,” she said. “It’s not like going into a Target and picking something off the shelf. It takes a long time to keep the schedule on track.”

Hewett said she had no doubt the EIC team would pass this milestone.

She described the procurement project group as a rock star team and she had no doubt that they were going to get it.

BNL won’t get the official approval to spend money until January.

An appreciated first

Choosing Hewett to serve in the top role at BNL has inspired some of her fellow scientists and could serve as encouragement to other underrepresented people in scientific fields.

Her experience makes her “the best person for the job,” said Lari. “This is what I’d put before thinking she’s a woman.”

Lari said she is “extremely proud to be a part of her team because [Hewett] is a really competent scientist, person, and the fact that she’s a woman is a plus.”

Having a female lab director helps with recruitment, added Hill.

In dealing with some human resource issues, Hewett asked questions that reflected some of the challenges she faced, Hill said. “That was eye opening to me and will stick with me,” he added.

Personal inspiration

On the personal side, Hewett, who is a Star Trek fan and makes a quick lunch meal of yogurt and berries in her office on the fly, shared some of her personal struggles and decisions.

In a BNL video, she explained that she is a breast cancer survivor who dealt with the dreaded disease 16 years earlier.

“My main message is to increase awareness and the importance of screenings,” said Hewett. “If one more person gets screened because of the video, then that’s a success.”

Gao applauded Hewett’s message, even as she wasn’t sure she or others would be comfortable sharing personal health issues.

As for her move from California, Hewett, who is an only child, brought her 93-year old father Bob across the country with her.

Her father had moved with the family three times when Hewett was two, seven and 14, which created some symmetry for the latest travels.

The senior Hewett was prepared to travel to Long Island to be with his daughter, whom he calls his “best buddy.”

A dedicated daughter and lab director, Hewett comes to work energized by the achievements and warmth of the staff.

“I knew, of course, about the science before I came,” she said. “What I didn’t know was how wonderful all the people are. Everyone is extremely dedicated to the mission in their role and what they do. It’s like family.”

Ann Emrick. Photo courtesy of BNL

Ann Emrick of East Patchogue has been named Deputy Director for Operations at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, effective Oct. 1. Emrick, a longtime Brookhaven Lab employee, takes over from Jack Anderson, who stepped down at the end of September after 10 years in the position.

In her new role, Emrick will oversee organizations that provide the bulk of support services for the Lab, including operation and maintenance of more than 300 buildings, several of which are unique, world-class scientific facilities. She will also work closely with Lab Director JoAnne Hewett, Deputy Director for Science & Technology John Hill, and the rest of the Lab’s senior leadership team on day-to-day operations and strategic planning for the Lab’s future.

“I’m excited to have Ann join Brookhaven’s leadership team,” said Laboratory Director JoAnne Hewett. “She brings tremendous experience and knowledge of the Lab, combined with enthusiasm for the role.”

During Emrick’s 36 years at Brookhaven Lab, she has served in progressively more impactful leadership roles across Brookhaven, the Battelle-affiliated labs, and the DOE complex. Most recently, Emrick was the directorate chief operating officer (DCOO) for the Lab’s Environment, Biology, Nuclear Science & Nonproliferation Directorate, the Computational Science Initiative, and the Advanced Technology Research Office.

“I am honored to have been selected for this position and thrilled to be working alongside JoAnne Hewett, John Hill, and the rest of the Lab leadership team at this exciting time at Brookhaven,” said Emrick. “The Lab’s future is bright with the Electron-Ion Collider project underway and our many scientific programs achieving impressive results. I plan to do my best to ensure operational excellence and to make Brookhaven Lab the best place for doing science.”

Sharon Kohler. Photo from BNL

Sharon Kohler—a leader with more than 30 years of experience managing environment, safety, health, and operations at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities with complex operational environments—took on the role of associate laboratory director (ALD) for environment, safety, and health (ES&H) at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory on Sept. 25.

Overseeing 135 employees and an annual budget of over $30 million, Kohler will be responsible for environmental protection and occupational safety and health at Brookhaven Lab’s 5,300-acre site, ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local regulations that protect the Laboratory’s 2,800 employees, the public, and the environment. Kohler will be responsible for work in the Environmental Protection, Radiological Control, and Safety & Health Services divisions, along with the Lab’s environmental cleanup and stewardship program.

“World-class science requires firm commitments to working safely and protecting the environment,” said Brookhaven Lab Director JoAnne Hewett. “As we welcome Sharon Kohler, we look to her as a leader and an advocate for the health and safety of our staff, the community, and the environment we share.”

Sharon Kohler has deep expertise in safety programs and practices, operations, and environmental management from years of experience at fellow DOE facilities. We are grateful she is bringing that expertise to Brookhaven to continue the safe conduct of research today and in the future,” said Jack Anderson, who led the hiring effort for this position and served as the Lab’s deputy director of operations before retiring Sept. 30.

Kohler comes to Brookhaven Lab from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where she held a variety of operational leadership roles over 17 years.

“I am grateful for the tremendous opportunity to continue serving the DOE community and sharing my passion for safety in the next chapter of my career at Brookhaven National Laboratory,” said Kohler. “I am excited to join the team of talented ES&H professionals supporting the Lab’s diverse science missions and world-class facilities.”

Most recently, Kohler served as director of ORNL’s Safety and Operations Services Division in the Environment, Safety, Health, and Quality Directorate (ESH&Q) and was responsible for the worker safety and health and research work control management systems. She previously supported ORNL as operations manager of ESH&Q, ESH&Q group leader at the Spallation Neutron Source, operations manager of the Neutron Sciences Directorate, and health and safety programs group leader in ESH&Q. Kohleralso led ORNL’s independent oversight organization.

Before joining ORNL in 2006, Kohler spent 16 years at DOE’s Environmental Management Program, Fernald Closure Project near Cincinnati, Ohio. While at Fernald, she directed programs related to work control, occupational safety, industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, nuclear criticality, safety analysis, integrated safety management, training, health and wellness, radiation protection, and emergency management.

Kohler earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Virginia Tech and a master’s in industrial engineering, occupational, and system safety from the University of Cincinnati. She is a certified safety professional.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The 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, visit science.energy.gov.

JoAnne Hewett leads her first staff meeting as the new lab director at Brookhaven National Laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 8. Photo from BNL

In her first week on the job, JoAnne Hewett has been taking walks around campus — and she likes what she sees.

The first woman to lead the 76-year old Brookhaven National Laboratory, Hewett has explored a facility primarily funded by the Department of Energy that conducts groundbreaking research in Energy & Photon Sciences, Environment, Biology, Nuclear Science & Nonproliferation, Computational Sciences, Nuclear & Particle Physics and Advanced Technology Research.

The walks Hewett has taken have been “my way of learning where all the buildings are,” said Hewett in an exclusive interview with TBR News Media. “I truly love stumbling across things I didn’t know BNL had.”

One night, Hewett walked to an enormous greenhouse, which, as a gardener who enjoys growing tomatoes, chili peppers and citrus, intrigued her.

In meeting people at these facilities, Hewett has been “impressed” at “how dedicated they are to the mission and to the science that can be done here.”

Most recently the associate lab director for fundamental physics and chief research officer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Hewett brings extensive experience in theoretical physics to BNL and Stony Brook University, where she serves as Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Professor at the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Throughout her career, Hewett has been the first woman to serve in a host of roles. That includes as the first woman faculty member at SLAC in 1994, the first woman associate lab director and the first woman chief research officer.

“The best way to serve as a role model is to just do a good job at whatever it is you’re doing,” Hewett said.

In her many roles, Hewett has received numerous emails from students eager to meet her.

“Don’t get discouraged,” she tells them. “You’re going to get more roadblocks than others, potentially [but] hopefully not. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep working. If you love science and want to do science, if it’s the passion in your belly, just do it.”

Hewett has been successful in her career in part because she describes herself as “stubborn by nature.”

Cultural priorities

In her tenure as lab director for a facility with over 2,760 staff members, Hewett plans to emphasize the importance of creating a respectful work environment.

“It should be number one for everybody, everywhere to foster a respectful workplace environment, so that each person that comes into work in the morning or whenever they start their shift can do the very best that they can,” she said.

Additionally, she will stress the importance of safety at the Upton-based lab, where seven projects have led to Nobel Prizes.

“A good safety culture also promotes a good workplace environment,” said Hewett. “If you don’t do your work safely, you can’t do your work.”

Science vs. management

While research and management require the use of different parts of the brain, Hewett suggested her professional and administrative goals have overlapping approaches.

“In both cases, you need to be very strategic about your thinking,” she said. “When you’re doing research, you need to think about the best way to spend your time.”

She had a “ton” of ideas in theoretical physics and needed to be strategic about how she spent her time. As a manager, she also needs to be strategic about the programs she supports to ensure they are advancing.

In addition to creating a respectful and safe workplace, Hewett would like to delve into the beautification of the campus.

“I want to involve the staff” in that effort, she said.

Hewett served as a mentor from 2008 to 2011 for Rouven Essig when he was a postdoctoral researcher at SLAC.

In an email, Essig, who is now Professor of Physics at the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, described her as “an exceptional leader” who is “friendly and approachable” with a “clear vision.”

Essig lauded Hewett’s vision for recognizing the value of funding small-scale experiments in particle physics, which are low-cost but can enable “major discoveries,” he added. “I think this approach is having a big impact in particle physics research in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

Essig is “excited to see how she will further strengthen BNL and the connections to Stony Brook.”

Hewett has had “numerous important contributions to our understanding of physics beyond the Standard Model and how it can be discovered with experiments,” Essig added.

In her career, Hewett found it “terrifically exciting to discover something” in which she was the “only person in the world for that instant of time that knows something,” she said.

For her, that moment occurred when she was developing work on a particular theory of extra spacetime dimensions.

Collider appeal

Hewett came to BNL in part because of the ongoing construction of the Electron Ion Collider, which will study quarks and gluons in the nucleus and the strongest forces in nature.

“I did a lot of studies of potential future colliders,” said Hewett. “I’m excited to be at a lab where a collider will be built.”

John Hill. Photo from BNL

John Hill, a distinguished physicist who is widely recognized as a world leader in x-ray scattering research, has been named deputy director for science and technology (DDST) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, effective July 1.

Hill’s appointment comes after an international search that began in March 2022, when current DDST Robert Tribble announced his plans to step down after eight years in the position.

“John Hill offers vision, institutional knowledge, and a track record of sound leadership,” said JoAnne Hewett, who was named the next director of Brookhaven Lab in April. “I look forward to working with him and the entire Brookhaven Lab community at the forefront of science.”

Jack Anderson is serving as interim director until Hewett joins the Lab later this summer.

In his new position, Hill will work closely with Hewett, the Lab’s science leaders, and the Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA) Board of Directors and its committees in charting the Laboratory’s future research directions (BSA, a partnership between Stony Brook University and Battelle, manages and operates the Lab on behalf of the DOE Office of Science).  More than 2,600 scientists, engineers, technicians, and professionals at Brookhaven are currently working to address challenges in nuclear and high energy physics, clean energy and climate science, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, isotope research and production, accelerator science and technology, and national security.

“I am incredibly excited to be taking on this role,” said Hill who is a resident of Stony Brook. “Brookhaven Lab has a long history of carrying out world-leading science for the benefit of the Nation and I am honored to be chosen to help lead the Lab as we continue that tradition and seek to answer some of the most important scientific questions facing the world today.”

Hill, a long-time employee of Brookhaven Lab, joined its Physics Department as a postdoc in 1992. He progressed through the ranks and has been director of the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Brookhaven, since 2015.

NSLS-II is one of the most advanced synchrotron light sources in the world. It produces ultra-bright x-rays for researchers to study materials for advances in energy, quantum computing, medicine, and more.

In addition, Hill has served as deputy associate laboratory director for energy and photon sciences since 2013. He also chaired Brookhaven Lab’s COVID-19 science and technology working group and represented Brookhaven as a member of DOE’s National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory, a consortium comprising all 17 national laboratories working to address challenges in the fight against COVID-19.

Hill’s research has focused on using resonant elastic and inelastic x-ray scattering to study magnetic and electronic phenomena. He has authored more than 120 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and has been recognized with both a Presidential Early Career Award and a DOE Young Independent Scientist Award. He was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society. Brookhaven Lab awarded Hill its Science and Technology Award—one of the Lab’s highest accolades—in 2012.

Hill earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Imperial College in London.


Brookhaven celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2022 and is home to seven Nobel Prize-winning discoveries and countless advances. Its 5,322-acre site attracts scientists from across the country and around the world, offering them expertise and access to large user facilities with unique capabilities. Each year, Brookhaven hosts thousands of guest researchers and facility users—in-person and virtually—from universities, private industry, and government agencies. The Lab’s annual budget is approximately $700 million, much of which is funded by the DOE and its Office of Science.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The 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, visit science.energy.gov.

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JoAnne Hewett has been named the new BNL director. Photo from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

For the first time in its over 75-year history, Brookhaven National Laboratory named its first female lab director.

JoAnne Hewett, associate lab director for fundamental physics and chief research officer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, will take over the top job at BNL this summer.

Hewett will also join Stony Brook University as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Hewett “is not only incredibly qualified and talented, but will also make history as the first woman to serve in this critical role,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who is the first woman elected governor of the Empire State, said in a statement. “The lab has developed innovative ways to deliver on New York’s top priorities, from battling disease to acting on climate change, that are making a difference today and for the future of New York.”

Hewett, who was the first woman member at SLAC in 1994, conducts research as a theoretical physicist, exploring the fundamental nature of space, matter and energy. Her work in physics focuses on efforts beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.

Stony Brook University Distinguished Professor and Director of the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics George Sterman described her hire as a “wonderful turn of events.”

In an email, Sterman wrote that her work “as a theoretical physicist has earned wide admiration, and her leadership has helped shape the national program in fundamental particles.”

Sterman suggested Hewett’s research “continues to influence experiments worldwide, and her perspectives will be greatly valued by her new colleagues at Stony Brook.”

With over 2,800 scientists, engineers, technicians and professionals and an annual budget of about $700 million, the researchers at BNL tap into the site’s state-of-the-art technology, including the National Synchrotron Lightsource II. These researchers, and the many scientists from around the country and the world, work in fields including nuclear and high energy physics, clean energy and climate science, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, photon sciences, isotope production, accelerator science and technology and national security.

Hewett is coming to BNL as it prepares to begin construction on the Electron-Ion Collider, or EIC. Estimated to cost between $1.7 billion and $2.8 billion, the EIC will allow researchers to look inside the nucleus at the protons and neutrons. The research will reveal the arrangement of quarks and gluons that make up the protons and neutrons of nuclei.

Discoveries from the EIC could lead to future technologies.

“I am head-over-heels excited to build the EIC in partnership with Jefferson Lab to unlock the mysteries of the force that binds Nature’s building blocks, to strengthen connections to industry and the community with Discovery Park, and to advance the multi-program missions of the lab,” Hewett said in a statement. “And I’m very much looking forward to working with everyone at Brookhaven, Stony Brook and the DOE to usher the lab into its next successful chapter.”

The lab is also building a new welcome center, the Science and User Support Group, which is the first building planned for Discovery Park.

Maurie McInnis, president of SBU and co-chair of the BSA Board of Directors, which is a partnership between SBU and Battelle, welcomed Hewett, who will start this summer, to BNL.

Hewett’s “capable leadership, experience and future-forward vision complements Brookhaven National Laboratory’s continued focus on scientific innovation and discovery,” McInnis said in a statement. “The University is pleased to bring her expertise to the Physics and Astronomy Department and to the C.N. Yang Institute of Theoretical Physics, both of which have had “long-standing and critical connections to many major physics achievements at BNL.”

The next few months

Hewett takes over the top job at the lab from Doon Gibbs, who had been in that position from 2013. Gibbs is retiring on April 17.

“I am grateful to [Gibbs] for his outstanding leadership of Brookhaven and his long legacy of building and strengthening the lab for advancing scientific discovery,” Hewett said in a statement.

Jack Anderson, BNL’s deputy director for operations, will serve as the interim lab director until Hewett joins the lab.

Tom Daniels, the current ALD for Facilities and Operations will serve as interim deputy director.

JoAnne Hewett. Twitter photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief


Brookhaven National Laboratory has had nine lab directors since it was founded in 1946. Earlier this week, the Department of Energy facility, which has produced seven Nobel Prizes, has state-of-the-art facilities, and employs over 2,800 scientists and technicians from around the world announced that it hired JoAnne Hewett as its first female lab director.

Successful, determined, dedicated and award-winning local female scientists lauded the hire of Hewett, who comes to BNL from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory where she was associate lab director for fundamental physics and chief research officer. SLAC is operated by Stanford University in Menlo Park, California. In email responses, local female scientists suggested that Hewett’s hiring can and would inspire women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

“I am so delighted by the news that Dr. JoAnne Hewett has been named to be the next director of Brookhaven National Laboratory,” wrote Esther Takeuchi, William and Jane Knapp chair in Energy and the Environment and SUNY distinguished professor at Stony Brook University and chair of the Interdisciplinary Science Department at BNL. As the first female director for the lab, Hewett “is an inspiration not only for the women who are in the field, but for future female scientists who will witness first hand that success at the highest level.”

Stella Tsirka, SUNY distinguished professor in the Department of Pharmacological Sciences at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, suggested this hire was a part of an increasing number of women in prominent positions in science at local institutions.

Stony Brook and BNL are “becoming a hub of strong female role models for younger females, in STEM, in medicine, in leadership!” Tsirka wrote. “Between [SB President] Maurie McInnis, Hewett, Ivet Bahar (the director of the Laufer Center), Anissa Abi-Dargham [principal investigator for the Long Island Network for Clinical and Translational Science] and many other successful female faculty in leadership positions, hopefully, the message comes out loud and clear to our young women who are in science already, or aspire to be in science.”

For her part, Abi-Dargham, who is chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, described Hewett’s hire as “amazing” and suggested it was “really exciting to see an accomplished female scientist selected to head our collaborating institution at BNL!”

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor and Cancer Center Program co-leader Mikala Egeblad added that the significance of Hewett’s hire goes “well beyond inspiring young girls. It is important to have women leaders for all sciences, also for someone at my career stage. I hope that one day, we will get to a point when we don’t think about whether a leader is a woman or a man.”

Women remain underrepresented at top leadership positions, so Egeblad finds it “very inspiring to see a woman recognized for her leadership skills and selected” to head BNL.

Leemor Joshua-Tor, professor and HHMI investigator at CSHL, called the hire “really great news” and indicated this was “especially true for the physical sciences, where there are even fewer women in senior positions than in biology.” Joshua-Tor added that the more women in senior, visible positions, “the more young women and girls see this as a normal career to have.”

Alea Mills, professor and Cancer Center member at CSHL, wrote that it is “fantastic that BNL has found the very best scientist to lead them into their next new mission of success. And it’s an extra bonus that this top scientist happens to be a woman!”

Mills added that efforts to enhance diversity are fashionable currently, but all too often fall short. Hiring Hewett makes “real traction that will undoubtedly inspire future generations of young women in STEM.”

Patricia Wright, distinguished service professor at Stony Brook in the Department of Anthropology, wrote that it was “inspiring” to see a female director of BNL and that “young female scientists can aspire to being in that role some day.”