Sam Aronson, Ph.D., Brookhaven National Laboratory Director

Powerful isn’t the only word that could sum up the man who’s been at the helm of one of the world’s leading research institutions since 2006. Amazing is up there, too. Since the physicist took over, Aronson added one more to the seven Nobel Prize-winning discoveries has racked up. He oversees a lab that has grown so large it has its own police station, fire department—even its own zip code, which some 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world flock to each year. In 2015, the $912 million National Synchrotron Light Source II, which will allow unprecedented research, will be completed; and just this May, the lab decoded the structure of an enzyme that could render a carcinogen harmless. Aronson announced earlier this year he plans to step down as director so he can return to his research, where his true power lies. Because not only can Aronson explain the ins and outs of quark-gluon plasma, he just might be the one making BNL’s next big breakthrough some day.

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