Michael Stewart Witherell

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Michael Stewart Witherell
Michael Witherell 20030815.jpg
Witherell in 2003
Born22 September 1949 (1949-09-22) (age 70)
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, University of Wisconsin
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics (high-energy particle physics)
InstitutionsLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Santa Barbara, Fermilab, Princeton University

Michael Stewart Witherell (born 22 September 1949) is an American physicist and laboratory director.[1] He is currently the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born 22 September 1949 in Toledo, Ohio.[1] Witherell received in 1968 his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and in 1969 his master's degree and in 1973 his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.[1]


From 1973-1981 he was on the faculty of Princeton University. He was a member of the physics faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) from 1981 to 1999.[1]

In 1985 Witherell led an experiment at Fermilab which was the first to isolate a large sample of particles containing the charm quark using the new technology of silicon microstrip detectors.[3] He received the 1990 Panofsky Prize from the American Physical Society for this research. In 1998 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Witherell served as the Director of the Fermilab from 1999 to 2005. In 2005 he returned to UCSB as the Vice Chancellor for Research, serving in that role until 2016.[1]

In January 2016, the University of California appointed him to be the Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[2] In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Witherell chaired the Fermilab Program Advisory Committee from 1987–89 and the SLAC Scientific Policy Committee from 1994 to 1996, and the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) of the United States Department of Energy from 1997-99.[1] He chaired the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee (MPSAC) of the NSF from 2006-2008 and the National Academy of Science's Board on Physics and Astronomy from 2015-2016.

Personal life[edit]

His wife Beth Witherell is a literary historian and editor-in-chief of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau project at UCSB.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1986: elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • 1988: Guggenheim Fellow for the academic year 1988–1989[5]
  • 1990: awarded the Panofsky Prize
  • 1998: elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2004: received the Gold Award of the US Secretary of Energy
  • 2017: elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


  1. ^ a b c d e f Michael S. Witherell | Array of Contemporary Physicists
  2. ^ a b "UC names Michael Witherell to head Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory". Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  3. ^ "Achievements of the Fixed Target Era (Ferminews, June 30, 2000)".
  4. ^ Nelson, Marcia Z. (4 July 1999). "Power Couple: Michael, Beth Witherell Bring Professional Wattage To Their New Jobs". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Michael S. Witherell

External links[edit]