James Heath will step down as CNSI head, maybe, in a while . . .

from the what's-really-going-on-here? dept.
An extensive article on the Small Times website ("Second top official to step down at California NanoSystems Institute", by Jayne Fried, 22 March 2002) reports that molecular computing researcher James Heath will step down as an acting co-director of the California NanoSystems Institute (http://www.cnsi.ucla.edu/) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) . . . but not right away. Heath will be leaving UCLA to devote more time to research, and will join the faculty at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "It's a tough thing to do, to go to Caltech," Heath told Small Times. "This (CNSI) is my baby, but it comes down to when I go to bed at night I think about institute problems."

According to the article, Heath expressed disappointment and frustration with the pace at which technology is moving from research labs to the marketplace within the University of California system. "UC has not been very strong in transferring intellectual property out into the world and making it happen," Heath said. Part of the reason is that the UC system is a "big company that is not quite as nimble as it could be."

The report notes that Heath's departure leaves the multi-million dollar CNSI with co-director Evelyn Hu, a nanotech electrical and computer engineer at UC Santa Barbara, and Roy Doumani, acting chief operating officer. Hu is one of the founders of CNSI. "I won't deny Jim's leaving is something that is very sobering because he's had such an influence," Hu said. "We worked so closely together." The article also notes that although Heath will be at Caltech, Doumani said Heath "will remain active and be able to stay as a member of CNSI." The plan appears to be an open door policy in which scientists outside the UC system will participate in CNSI. "I hope to find a way to get Caltech involved in the institute," Heath said.

As the title of the Small Times article reflects, Heath is the second major figure to announce departure from a CNSI leadership position in recent months. In January 2002, Martha Krebs left as director of CNSI for a broader role at UCLA. Krebs was also associate vice chancellor of UCLA for research, and said she will be devote herself full time to that job. Krebs was a key figure in establishing CNSI, and had moved to California a year ago from Washington, D.C., to become director of the institute. Previously, as science director at the U.S. Department of Energy, Krebs helped establish the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative.

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