An accomplished academic leader and longtime member of the Stanford community, Drell will become the university’s chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer. She will assume the role Feb. 1 2017.
She is an accomplished physicist, an experienced leader of complex organizations, a teacher committed to broad undergraduate education and a longtime member of the Stanford community who literally grew up on the campus.
A distinguished scholar, Drell is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other honors. A search for a new dean of the School of Engineering will begin expeditiously, with the aim of having a new dean in place when Drell transitions.
Drell received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Wellesley College in 1977, followed by a PhD in atomic physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983. She then switched to high-energy experimental physics and worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
She joined the physics faculty at Cornell University in 1988 and stayed until 2002, when she became professor and director of research at SLAC, working on the construction of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, among other projects.
She became deputy director of SLAC in 2005 and director in 2007. She was credited with helping broaden the focus of the laboratory, increasing collaborations between SLAC and the main Stanford campus, and overseeing transformational projects such as the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world’s most powerful X-ray free-electron laser.
After returning to research and teaching in 2012, Drell in 2014 was named dean of the Stanford School of Engineering, the first woman to serve in the role.
She is married to SLAC accelerator physicist Jim Welch, and they have three children.