Born in 1947 in Cape Town, South Africa, Jonathan Dorfan is a world-renowned physicist who earned his BSc in physics and applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town in 1969. Upon completing his PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of California, Irvine in 1976, Dr. Dorfan joined the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and became its director from 1999 through 2007. Under his leadership, SLAC 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. 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.
After transitioning SLAC from a single-purpose particle physics research center to a multi-program laboratory serving scientists worldwide, Dr. Dorfan carried over his experience to the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) as its inaugural president in 2010. During his tenure as OIST President and CEO, Dr. Dorfan turned the conceptual aims of OIST into reality. He oversaw the assemblage of infrastructures and equipment for state-of-the-art research and quality of life support for faculty and students. He also initiated the second phase of OIST's growth with the construction of Laboratory 4, which became operational in April 2020. Dr. Dorfan expanded the OIST faculty with an ambitious recruitment strategy, which enabled OIST to attain university accreditation by 2011. His efforts instilled an atmosphere of interdisciplinary research and education comprising of world-competitive faculty and students to the University campus, ranked 9th best academic institution in the world based on the the 2019 Nature Index Annual Tables Normalized Award.
Jonathan Dorfan retired as OIST President and CEO in December 2016 and is now the President Emeritus of OIST. He is also Professor and Director Emeritus of SLAC and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Cape Town, Technische Universität Dresden, the University of Maryland University College, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2016, Dr. Dorfan was awarded the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics for his leadership in the BABAR and Belle experiments. In 2017, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, one of Japan’s most distinguished national decorations, for contributing to the development of Japan’s science research and education. In 2019, Dr. Dorfan became a member of the University of California Irvine Physical Sciences Hall of Fame.
Ever active in the science community, Dr. Dorfan's long record of affiliations from serving as an advisor, chairman, or board member includes the International Committee on Future Accelerators, the Large Synoptic Space Telescope Corporation, the Weizmann Institute in Israel, the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, IST Austria’s ISTScholar, the US Department of Energy, the International Linear Collider Global Design Effort, and the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science at Oxford University.