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Kastner of physics is new dean of science

Marc A. Kastner
Marc A. Kastner

Marc A. Kastner, the Donner Professor of Science and current head of the Department of Physics, will succeed Class of 1942 Professor of Chemistry Robert J. Silbey as the next dean of the School of Science. Kastner has served as head of the Department of Physics since 1998; he will assume his new leadership role July 1.

Provost Rafael L. Reif announced Kastner's appointment to the MIT community today. In making the announcement, Reif noted that, under Kastner's leadership, the department of physics had "enhanced its reputation as one of the world's great centers of excellence in its field."

In his letter, Reif cited the success of Kastner's departmental initiatives, including "bringing in exceptional new faculty, introducing a new flexible degree option and increasing the number of its majors, and moving ahead with the construction and renovations comprising the new Green Center for Physics, which will be completed this spring."

Reif also noted the "critical role" played by Kastner's "collegial approach and emphasis on thoughtful strategic planning."

The School of Science, Reif wrote, has a "well-deserved reputation for leadership in teaching and research. I know that Professor Kastner, in his new role, will build on the accomplishments of Bob Silbey's seven years as dean to ensure the school's continued preeminence."

Kastner said of his appointment as dean, "It is an enormous honor to be entrusted by the provost and the president with the leadership of the best school of science in the world. Dean Bob Silbey has left the school in excellent shape, with many new faculty members and several new or renovated buildings. I know that each of the departments, centers, labs and institutes in the school aspires to become even stronger, and I want to help in any way I can."

Before his appointment as head of the Department of Physics, Kastner served for five years as director of the interdisciplinary Center for Materials Science and Engineering. From 1989 to 1997, he chaired the MIT Campus-Lincoln Laboratory Interaction Committee.

Kastner was educated at the University of Chicago, where he received his S.B. in chemistry and his Ph.D. in physics, and he joined the MIT faculty in 1973 after a research fellowship at Harvard University. His early research focused on amorphous semiconductors, materials which are useful for solar cells. He has also studied the physics of high-temperature superconductivity. In 1990 his group fabricated the first semiconductor single-electron transistor, and the group continues to use these devices to study the quantum mechanical behavior of electrons confined to nanometer dimensions. He has been the recipient of the David Adler Lectureship Award and the Oliver E. Buckley Prize, both awarded by the American Physical Society.

Reif also expressed his gratitude for the "excellent work of the search advisory committee." The committee was chaired by John D. Joannopoulos, the Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics, and also included Professors Tania A. Baker (biology), Moungi G. Bawendi (chemistry), Jesus del Alamo (electrical engineering and computer science), Ann M. Graybiel (brain and cognitive sciences), Paula T. Hammond (chemical engineering), Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli (earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences) and Gigliola Staffilani (mathematics).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 14, 2007 (download PDF).

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