Martha Krebs of LBL Nominated to DOE Office of Energy Research

July 16, 1993

By Lynn Yarris,

Martha Krebs, LBL's Associate Laboratory Director for planning and development, has been nominated by President Clinton to head the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Research. OER is the primary funding agency for all of DOE's multiprogram energy research laboratories. It also supports university and single purpose laboratory research.

"Martha Krebs could be the most effective director of Energy Research in recent times," says LBL director Charles V. Shank. "She brings a unique blend of scientific competence and knowledge of Washington that enables her to accomplish things."

Krebs will need all of the resources at her command for her new position. As "ER-1," she will supervise the spending of more than $3 billion on a far-flung and diverse nexus of scientific facilities and programs. Her office is responsible for managing DOE's programs in basic energy sciences, high-energy and nuclear physics, fusion energy, and biological and environmental research, plus extensive programs in technology transfer and education.

Such an imposing task, demands equally imposing credentials and Krebs delivers in terms of both academic training and work experience. She was graduated summa cum laude from Catholic University in 1966 as a physics major. Honored as a National Merit Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa, she went on to obtain her doctorate in theoretical physics from Catholic U in 1975, specializing in statistical mechanics.

The unique blend of expertise referred to by Shank stems from Krebs having spent six years (1977-1983) on the House of Representatives' Committee on Science and Technology. She began there as a science consultant for the Subcommittee on Fossil and Nuclear Energy, and rose to become Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Energy and Development Applications.

She came to LBL in July, 1983, recruited after a nationwide search by then LBL director David A. Shirley to serve as Associate Laboratory Director for Planning and Development -- the first woman ALD in the national laboratory system. Her primary mission was to establish at LBL a strategic scientific program planning process that would meet new DOE requirements and, among other things, secure for the Laboratory support in Washington to build the Advanced Light Source.

Shirley, who is now a senior vice president at Penn State University, was a strong supporter of Krebs' nomination to head ER. In a letter of endorsement, he praised her performance at LBL, calling her achievements "spectacular." Shirley's words are backed by the recent commissioning of the ALS.

Though brought to LBL for her skills in strategic planning, Krebs duties quickly evolved to encompass a broad spectrum of responsibilities. Among her most significant achievements were the creation of a Technology Transfer Office, of which Shirley said, "She advanced technology transfer from the Laboratory to industry by a quantum jump."

Krebs also oversaw the establishment at LBL of the Center for Science and Engineering Education. Towards that end, she worked closely with Nobel laureate Glenn Seaborg, a longtime supporter of science education, who wrote a letter on her behalf to Vice President Gore.

In his letter, Seaborg noted that Krebs "has been involved in the development of nearly every initiative that has come to LBL in the last ten years. She has helped to map out strategies, identify scientific collaborations, and develop facilities to support the research."

Seaborg also expressed confidence in Krebs' ability to return to Washington and make the transition from Berkeley to the national scene.

"She understands the changing context in which scientific programs must be developed with an emphasis on their contribution to society," Seaborg said. "Her familiarity with DOE programs, her understanding of broad scientific opportunities, her ability to bring people together, and her deep interest in having science make a difference make her an excellent candidate to lead Energy Research and be a member of the Clinton-Gore science and technology team."