A.J. Stewart Smith *66
A.J. Stewart Smith *66

A.J. Stewart Smith *66, who oversees the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab in his role as the University’s dean for research, will take on the new position of vice president for the lab Jan. 1. Princeton has begun the search for a new dean for research.

PPPL is one of 10 national science laboratories and a major center for fusion-energy research. It has been operated by the University since it was created in 1951. In 2009 the Department of Energy awarded Princeton a five-year, $390 million contract to continue managing and operating the lab, with a provision to extend the contract for five additional years.

“That contract called for greatly increased University oversight of the lab,” Smith said. He said he expected to spend more time in Washington, D.C., and would work to “broaden the scope of activities at the lab.”

The University’s announcement of the new position came two months after the White House released a budget proposal that would cut the lab’s $85 million annual budget by $10 million. Smith said in mid-April that discussions about the level of support for PPPL were continuing in Congress, but added: “The funding situation is really serious.” The lab receives more than a third of the University’s $251 million annual funding for sponsored research, which makes up about 17 percent of the University’s budget.

Smith, an authority in high-energy particle-physics research, expects to devote more time to his own research as he begins his new position.