Christopher Deeney has been named the new director of the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics, the largest university-based Department of Energy research program in the nation. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)
Deeney was named deputy director of the LLE in October 2021 and has served as interim director since Campbell’s retirement. He previously served as chief science and technology officer, National Security Directorate, at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and before that at the Nevada National Security Site, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the Sandia National Laboratories.
Deeney is known as a scientific and innovation leader with direct experience running complex operations.
“The University is fortunate to have such a visionary leader for our Laboratory for Laser Energetics,” says University President Sarah Mangelsdorf. “Chris Deeney is internationally known and respected. We’re looking forward to the creative partnerships and projects he will continue to cultivate with scholars and institutions around the world.”
Stephen Dewhurst, vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and associate vice president for health sciences research for the University, who is currently serving a one-year appointment as interim vice president for research, added, “We’re thrilled that Chris will be serving permanently as LLE director. He will continue the trajectory of innovation that has characterized the crucial work of LLE.”
LLE has a long tradition of innovating and advancing laser and optical technology. As LLE director, Deeney will provide guidance to ensure the development and implementation of LLE’s scientific and technical mission. He will participate in the day-to-day management of LLE while fostering successful relationships among the University’s senior leadership, medical center, academic and administrative departments, and students; federal, local, and state government officials; peer organizations and laboratories; the DOE, NNSA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense; and private industry and the local community.
“The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics remains a jewel in the inertial confinement fusion and high-energy-density physics programs,” Deeney says. “It is an honor to be selected to work with the exceptional scientists, engineers, technicians, administrators, and students who make every facet of LLE sparkle. Mike Campbell was an exceptional director, and he has left the laboratory in a very strong position. I look forward to working with the LLE team, the University leadership, and our sponsors to deliver on opportunities to advance science and technology.”
LLE, which recently received $83 million in federal funding as part of the fiscal year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill—a $1 million increase over fiscal year 2021—is the largest university-based DOE research program in the nation. The laboratory operates two world-class laser facilities and a number of smaller facilities, powered by a workforce of nearly 400 employees and more than 50 graduate students. As a premier institute for the studies of inertial confinement fusion and high-energy density research, LLE also operates the National Laser Users’ Facility, which allows as many as 500 additional scientists from all over the world to probe the extremes of temperature and pressure in laboratory-scale experiments.
Deeney’s near-term tasks include developing an effective and sustainable approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion—one that builds upon LLE’s efforts to date, is integrated with the University as a whole, and has NNSA and DOE buy-in. He will help develop ongoing University strategy and laboratory-specific strategies, with an emphasis on executability and workforce balance between scientists, engineers, and technical staff.
Deeney received his PhD in plasma physics from the Imperial College in the United Kingdom. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.