By Chris Kenrick
Persis S. Drell, director of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park since December 2007, will resign the post and return to research and teaching, Stanford University announced Nov. 1.
She will continue as director while Stanford conducts an international search for a replacement, expected in the first half of 2012, the university said.
"After a decade in lab management, I feel this is the right time for me to get back to my first loves of research and teaching," Ms. Drell said. Drell was SLAC's director of research from 2002 to 2007 when she was named lab director.
She is the fourth director in SLAC's 50-year history.
Stanford operates SLAC on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
During her tenure, SLAC branched out from its primary research in high-energy physics to research in a range of disciplines, including energy, biology, drug development and materials engineering.
In 2010, the lab began operations on the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the world's most powerful x-ray laser.
"Under her guidance, the laboratory has seen a true renaissance and is now involved in scientific pursuits in areas ranging from energy research to biology and medicine," Stanford President John Hennessy said.
"She has served SLAC, the DOE and Stanford incredibly well. It's difficult to see her step down, but I respect her wishes to return to her academic roots and am happy she will continue her work at Stanford."