Celebrating Marc Kastner
On November 14, 2013, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would nominate MIT’s Marc Kastner to head the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science. Once he is confirmed, Kastner will oversee a budget of almost $5 billion – the Office of Science is the leading federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and is also the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. For those who have regularly read the Dean’s letters in this publication, you know that there is no greater champion for basic, curiosity-driven science. He is well-suited to address the challenges of maintaining the nation’s leadership in fundamental science, which is so critical to the nation’s security and economic health. In this new position, Kastner will be responsible for ten national laboratories, including Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
 
“In nominating Dean Kastner to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, President Obama made an inspired choice,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said. “A brilliant physicist and highly effective manager, Marc Kastner is ideally suited to manage DOE’s basic science portfolio and its network of national labs. Through his leadership of MIT’s School of Science, he has an unrivaled grasp of the nation’s scientific enterprise and a record of attracting exceptional talent. He argues eloquently for the value of basic science but has worked with equal enthusiasm to help MIT faculty transform emerging ideas into important real-world technologies. He knows the challenges of building a sustainable energy future, and I can think of no one better to help the U.S. seize the opportunities, as well.”
 
Born in Canada and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Kastner studied chemistry as an undergraduate and switched to physics in graduate school, both at the University of Chicago. He then came to the east coast where, 41 years ago, he arrived on MIT’s campus as an Assistant Professor of Physics. His research has centered on fundamental questions related to how electrons move inside solids, a field that has provided the scientific underpinning of the electronics and computer industries. He is best known for the discovery of the single electron transistor, which turns off and on again every time an electron is added to it. One day, this single electron transistor may help create computers with even greater computing power and lower energy consumption than those we have today.