Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille to Lead Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division

Cosmologist and proponent of science outreach to lead division with long history of groundbreaking research

Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, a cosmologist and research director at the Institute for Research on the Fundamental Laws of the Universe at the CEA Paris-Saclay research center , has been selected to serve as the next division director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Physics Division. Her appointment will be effective in late August. The announcement follows an international search.

Palanque-Delabrouille’s research focuses on the study of dark matter and dark energy, and she has played instrumental roles in several international collaborations throughout her career. She received her Ph.D. jointly from the University of Chicago and University of Paris-Diderot in 1997, contributing to the EROS search for dark matter objects using microlensing. She has also conducted research on the Astronomy with a Neutrino Telescope and Abyss environmental Research (ANTARES) undersea neutrino experiment, the SuperNova Legacy Survey (SNLS), and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), where she co-led the target selection group and carried out an analysis on the Lyman-alpha forest, which put constraints on the sum of the neutrino masses. While working on BOSS in 2013 and 2014, she spent a year as a visiting researcher at Berkeley Lab. She is currently a member of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) collaboration and has served as the DESI co-spokesperson since 2018.

"I am thrilled that Nathalie will be taking the reins of the Physics Division," said Natalie Roe, Berkeley Lab’s Associate Laboratory Director for the Physical Sciences Area. "She is a highly accomplished and widely recognized scientist, and she brings a deep understanding and appreciation for the broad program of research in the Physics Division, as well as demonstrated commitment to public outreach and diversity in science. The division will be in very good hands."

"Many of the recent discoveries in cosmology and particle physics originate from Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division," said Palanque-Delabrouille. "Thanks to exceptional and diverse scientists with leading roles in key projects and cutting-edge research, the division is remarkably positioned to address the outstanding questions we will face in the next decade, from missing pieces in our understanding of subatomic physics to the dark components that seem to permeate the universe. It is an immense honor for me to be entrusted to serve as its director."

Berkeley Lab has a long history of leadership and innovation in particle physics and cosmology, which continues today. Physics Division researchers design, build, and operate cutting-edge detectors for high energy physics experiments, develop cosmological observatories to characterize dark energy, and design and install sensitive low background detectors in deep underground caverns to search for signals for dark matter. The division is one of four divisions in Berkeley Lab’s  Physical Sciences Area , which brings together scientists and engineers to explore interactions between matter and energy at scales ranging from the outermost reaches of the cosmos to the innermost confines of subatomic particles.

In 2020, Palanque-Delabrouille was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. She is also a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Legion of Honor and recipient of the 2017 Irene Joliot-Curie award for Woman Scientist from the French Academy of Sciences. At CEA Paris-Saclay, she has served as the SNLS group leader and the cosmology group leader. She serves on a number of scientific advisory councils, and is a member of the neutrino panel of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

Palanque-Delabrouille is also well known for her scientific outreach, including participating in many science cafes, radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, and scientific festivals. She and her husband Jacques Delabrouille co-authored a book, New Messengers of the Cosmos, which won the Astronomy Book of the Year award in France in 2012.

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