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Ames Laboratory/IPRT director will step down

AMES, Iowa - Thomas J. Barton, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and director of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology (IPRT) at Iowa State University, has announced his resignation effective Feb. 28, 2007. Barton has served as director of the Ames Laboratory since 1988 and director of IPRT since 1998. Barton, who holds the title of Distinguished Professor, will return to ISU's chemistry faculty.

In announcing his resignation, Barton pointed to several successes that led to the timing of his decision.

"The contract for the Ames Laboratory is now signed; the scientific programs are in excellent shape; the budget has been stable for several years; our safety culture is firmly embedded; and we have superb people in every single key position in the Lab," Barton said. "On the IPRT side, we have the finest leadership one can imagine for each of the centers, and all programs are healthy and pursuing their respective missions with vigor. It is thus an excellent time for me to step down from the directorships of Ames Lab and IPRT and return to the teaching of chemistry and working with students, which attracted me to Ames some 40 years ago."

Barton recently oversaw the successful signing of a new $150 million, five-year contract for the operation of the Ames Laboratory by Iowa State University. Since taking over as director of Ames Lab in 1988, he has overseen the growth of the laboratory's annual budget from $17 million to approximately $30 million in 2006. Throughout his tenure, Barton has lobbied for the expansion of DOE funding for fundamental and applied research at the laboratory, with a recent emphasis on funding for bio-related initiatives.

Barton's efforts to promote the transfer of Ames Laboratory technologies to the marketplace were recognized in 2003 when he received the Technology Transfer Director of the Year award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium, a network of 700 major federal laboratories and centers and their parent departments and agencies. This award is given to a director of a federal laboratory who is deemed to have made the most outstanding contributions in support of technology transfer.

As director, Barton also has overseen the rapid growth of IPRT, adding four centers since 2002: the Midwest Forensics Resource Center, Center for Catalysis, Center for Building Energy Research, and Catron Center for Solar Energy Research. The IPRT Company

Assistance program he created has provided technical and other assistance to more than 500 Iowa companies over the past five years.

Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy calls Barton a "tremendous" and "loyal" leader, who has dedicated himself to advancing IPRT, Ames Laboratory and ISU.

"It's hard to think about any leader who's been more committed to what we all value, which is true excellence, doing the right thing, focusing on recruiting and retaining great faculty members, pushing innovative research programs and collaborating broadly within the institution. Tom Barton has done all of that extraordinarily well. I certainly have appreciated his great leadership," Geoffroy said.

Geoffroy's goal is to have a new Ames Laboratory director in place by July 1, 2007. A committee, consisting of eight to12 faculty, administrators and staff, will be established in early January to conduct a nationwide search. The committee will be led by a dean or distinguished faculty member.

The successful candidate will be someone who can build upon Ames Laboratory's traditional strengths as well as look to the future, Geoffroy said. An interim director of Ames Laboratory, one who will not be considered for the permanent director position, will be appointed in early 2007 to lead Ames Lab during the transition period.

Between now and Jan. 15, Geoffroy has directed John Brighton, vice president for research and economic development at ISU, to gather input from Ames Laboratory and IPRT faculty and staff on the relationship between the two organizations. Geoffroy says this input will allow him to make a decision on how to best handle the IPRT director's position during the interim period and in the future.

"Certainly, the interim director may wear both hats," said Geoffroy, which would be a continuation of the current relationship between Ames Laboratory and IPRT. Ultimately, however, the directorships could once again become separate positions, as they were prior to 1998.

"IPRT is a real asset at ISU. It was a great creation. It really facilitates so much good research and many interdisciplinary connections. Ultimately, I'd like to see that enhanced," Geoffroy said.

Ames Laboratory is operated for the Department of Energy by Iowa State University. The lab conducts research into various areas of national concern, including energy resources, high-speed computer design, environmental cleanup and restoration, and the synthesis and study of new materials. IPRT is a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State, of which the Ames Laboratory is the first and largest member. In addition to performing world-class scientific research, IPRT provides a wide variety of technical assistance to Iowa companies.



Thomas J. Barton

Quick look

Thomas J. Barton, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and director of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology (IPRT) at Iowa State University, has announced his resignation effective Feb. 28, 2007.