Prof. Jonathan Dorfan

United States

A world-renowned particle physicist, Prof. Jonathan M. Dorfan was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1947. He earned his BSc in physics and applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town in 1969, and his PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of California, Irvine in 1976.

Prof. Dorfan spent the first three decades of his career at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC, today the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory), where he led the design and construction of the B-factory accelerator complex, helped bring together its associated 10-nation BaBar collaboration, and coordinated the construction of the BaBar detector. The discovery by Babar of CP Violation in the b quark system was cited by the Nobel Committee as the primary experimental evidence in support of the theoretical work of Profs. Kobayashi and Maskawa, which earned them the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics. Appointed SLAC’s director in 1999, Prof. Dorfan guided its transition from a single-purpose research center to a multi-program laboratory. Under Prof. Dorfan’s leadership, SLAC also led the development of the main instrument for NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and secured the world’s first X-ray free-electron laser. Anticipating the growing importance of astrophysics, he initiated the creation of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC).

In 2010, Prof. Dorfan was named president of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), an emerging world-class academic entity in Japan. During his tenure, he turned the vision of the founder of the Okinawa Institute into reality and launched a campaign to double the University, bringing it to include 100 faculty-led research groups and 300 graduate students by 2023.

As a researcher, Prof. Dorfan’s interests encompass experimental particle physics, the fundamental makeup of matter, accelerator design and construction, and accelerator-based cancer therapy using protons and heavy ions. His long list of accolades includes honorary doctorates from the University of Cape Town and Technische Universität Dresden, as well as the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. He is a Fellow of both the American Association of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. 
Prof. Dorfan has served on numerous advisory bodies, including as a member of the International Committee for Future Accelerators, the Board of Directors of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich.  At present, Prof. Dorfan is a member of the Advisory Board of the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science and IST Austria’s ISTScholar Advisory Board. 

A longtime friend of the Weizmann Institute, and a valued colleague and mentor to its scientists, Prof. Dorfan has served on the Institute’s International Board and its Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee (SAAC) since 2004. He co-chaired SAAC for nine consecutive years, from 2009-2018, a role he faithfully fulfilled, greatly contributing to the Institute's scientific work.

Jonathan and his wife Renée have two adult children, Nicole and Rachel, and four grandchildren.