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photo of Laurence Littenberg

Laurence Littenberg

Chair of the Physics Department

photo of Laurence Littenberg

Laurence Littenberg oversees Brookhaven's current portfolio of complex physics experiments, including the exploration of forces and particles of the early universe that give shape to visible matter in the universe today — taking place at the Lab's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), as well as Brookhaven's role in collaborative research at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which explores the characteristics of fundamental subatomic particles and conducts research that is in many ways complementary with that done at RHIC. Brookhaven physicists have and continued to play a central role in building and operating the ATLAS experiment, one of the large high-energy particle detectors at the LHC, and they also run the central facility for analyzing and distributing the massive volumes of data generated at ATLAS to collaborators around the U.S.

Littenberg is also in charge of the Lab's efforts to understand physics at the cosmic scale, including the development of a multi-gigapixel camera sensor for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a huge instrument to be deployed in Chile to determine the dark matter distribution in the universe and explore the nature of dark energy; Brookhaven's collaboration in the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey(BOSS), which is creating a 3-D map of the universe by measuring light given off from extremely distant galaxies and quasars; and experiments in the U.S. and China to further explore the properties of neutrinos, elusive subatomic particles with historical significance for Brookhaven as the subject of research dating back to the 1950s and 70s that eventually earned the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics. The latter includes the proposed Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE), which is the centerpiece of the future U.S. domestic high-energy physics program. 

Littenberg earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Cornell University in 1963, and both a master's degree and Ph.D. in high-energy physics from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in 1965 and 1969, respectively. He was a research associate at UCSD before joining Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, England, in 1970 as a senior research associate. He came to Brookhaven Lab in 1974 as an associate physicist. Earning tenure in 1983 and named a senior physicist in 1989, he led the Electronic Detector Group for 18 years and became associate chair for high-energy physics in Brookhaven's Physics Department in 2007. Littenberg won the Brookhaven Science & Technology Award in 2000. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, he received the society's W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in 2010, along with Douglas Bryman of the University of British Columbia and A.J. Stewart Smith of Princeton University, for the rare K decay discovery. In 2011 he was again recognized for the rare K-decay research when named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.