Professor Richard Lester has been named the next head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, effective Sept. 1, 2009, Dean of Engineering Subra Suresh announced this week.
Lester, who will succeed Professor Ian Hutchinson as department head, has been a member of the department's faculty since 1979. He received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College and his PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT.
"There is a critical need for education and research in nuclear science and engineering for many important applications, including energy, human health and safety, environmental sustainability, and national security," said Suresh, the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT. "Richard has a proven record of broad multi-disciplinary interactions across the Institute, and I am pleased he has agreed to lead the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering as MIT enhances its prominent role in these areas."
Lester's early studies of the nuclear fuel cycle laid the foundation for nearly three decades of interdisciplinary teaching and research on energy and environmental technology applications and the management and control of nuclear technology. With other MIT colleagues, Lester later began a series of investigations into the determinants of successful innovation performance and productivity growth in a range of industries.
In 1991, Lester founded the MIT Industrial Performance Center, and as the center's director he has worked with faculty and students from all five MIT schools on studies of the technological transformation of industry and the consequences for society and the global economy.
Lester is also the author or co-author of seven books on the nuclear fuel cycle, energy technology applications, and innovation management and policy.