Bill Goldstein announced his retirement as director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) on Tuesday.
Goldstein, who also serves as president of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, has held the lab’s top position since he became the lab’s 12th director in March 2014.
“It is an immense honor to serve as director of this unique, exceptional institution,” said Goldstein, who will step down after a successor is selected. “I have been privileged throughout my career to work alongside great scientists, engineers, technicians and administrators who have devoted their estimable talents to our critical missions. The lab has demonstrated again and again its ability to contribute to solving the biggest problems, and I am confident it will continue to serve the nation with new ideas.”
Goldstein’s career at LLNL spans more than 36 years. He started in the Physics Directorate working on diverse national security and science programs before taking on roles of increasing responsibility in senior management.
Goldstein’s announcement comes at a time of increasingly strained international affairs and renewed interest in nuclear deterrence. It also comes at a time of tremendous growth at LLNL.
At the time Goldstein was appointed director six years ago, the lab stood at approximately 6,000 employees with a $1.5 billion budget. Today, the lab’s workforce numbers 7,400 employees and a $2.3 billion budget.
“Bill always has approached everything he does at the lab with diligence and intelligence,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, U.S. Department of Energy’s Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator.
Also a former colleague of Goldstein’s, Gordon-Hagerty worked at LLNL prior to joining the federal government.
“Bill’s passion for the Lab’s missions and his dedication to the workforce are unquestionable,” she continued. “We thank him for his service to this nation.”
Under his tenure, the lab acquired several of the world’s fastest supercomputers. It became a leader in additive manufacturing and developed and constructed the High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), the world’s most advanced and highest average power diode-pumped laser. During his time, the lab also provided the optical assemblies — one of them the world’s largest optical lens ever assembled — for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Furthermore, it published “Getting to Neutral,” a groundbreaking study on how California could achieve carbon neutrality.
Research on the National Ignition Facility, the world’s most energetic laser, also made significant progress toward fusion ignition, while providing insight into stockpile science that could not be achieved through previous weapons testing.
Improvements were made to safety and security across the main site, as well as Site 300. On-site, the lab saw construction of new facilities as well as improvements to infrastructure.
Goldstein steered the lab through the workforce challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly three-quarters of the workforce telecommuting.
The lab has also made key contributions in the fight against the disease, including emergency ventilators fabricated from off-the-shelf parts; using additive manufacturing as a viable option for fabricating nasal swabs; studying ways to reuse protective masks and face coverings; developing diagnostics for COVID-19 testing; and providing predicted structures of a key COVID-19 viral protein to help the research community accelerate development of potential medical treatments.
Goldstein began his career as a postdoctoral research associate with the Theoretical Physics Group at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Columbia University in New York and a bachelor's degree in physics from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He’s received numerous awards and authored or co-authored more than 70 papers in the fields of elementary particle theory, nuclear physics, atomic physics, X-ray physics and plasma spectroscopy.
A national search for the next laboratory director will be led by the University of California for the LLNS partnership.