Thomas R. O'Brian, chief of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been appointed director of the NIST Boulder Laboratories. As NIST Boulder Director, O'Brian is the senior site manager with oversight of the facilities and technical infrastructure for the agency's 400 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff. The NIST Boulder Laboratories are engaged in a wide range of research activities in measurement science, including time and frequency standards; electromagnetics, including superconductivity and electromagnetic fields; optoelectronics; chemical engineering; materials reliability; laser physics; quantum and optical physics; and computational methods. The labs have strong partnerships with U.S. industry, other government agencies and universities.
O'Brian earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and a doctorate in experimental atomic physics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He joined NIST in 1991 as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow in the NIST Physics Laboratory in Gaithersburg, Md., conducting research on the interactions of atoms with very strong laser light. O'Brian's most recent scientific focus involved precision measurements using synchrotron radiation (light from electron accelerators).