LANL Deputy Director For Science, Technology & Engineering John Sarrao Named Director Of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

LANL deputy director for science technology and engineering John Sarrao. Photo by Maire O’Neill/


Los Alamos National Laboratory deputy director for science, technology and engineering John Sarrao has been named director of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif. and will assume his duties Oct. 2.

Sarrao succeeds X-ray scientist Chi-Chang Kao who has been in the position for 10 years. Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced the appointment Monday.

“John’s experience and leadership make him an excellent choice to lead SLAC into its next chapter. The lab is a vital partner in Stanford’s research ecosystem, with unique facilities and expertise enabling us to tackle some of the most critical scientific challenges of our time,” Tessier-Lavigne said.

“John brings proven leadership and scientific excellence to this important role,” said Department of Energy Office of Science Director Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe. “Having dedicated his career to enabling discovery and innovation within the DOE national laboratories, his leadership will advance SLAC’s mission and amplify its scientific impact.”

Sarrao comes to SLAC from LANL in New Mexico, where he serves as the deputy director for science, technology & engineering, overseeing the directorates for chemistry, Earth & life sciences; global security; physical sciences; and simulation & computation. He also stewards technology transitions at the lab and serves as its chief research officer in support of LANL’s national security mission. Prior to his current position, he held a number of leadership roles at LANL, including associate director for theory, simulation & computation and division leader for materials physics & applications.

Sarrao has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Stanford University and a master’s in physics from the University of California-Los Angeles, where he also received his PhD in physics based on thesis work performed at LANL. His primary research interest is in the synthesis and characterization of correlated electron systems, especially actinide materials. He was the 2013 winner of the DOE’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for the discovery and study of novel superconductors, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and LANL.

“I’m excited and humbled to be joining the SLAC team as laboratory director,” Sarrao said. “As the laboratory enters its seventh decade, the future is very bright, building on a distinguished history of innovation and discovery and a dedicated community. I look forward to the world-leading advances we’ll make together with our partners at Stanford and in the DOE system, and I’m grateful to Chi-Chang and Stephen for their leadership.”