Announcement: Dean of the Division of Mathematical & Physical Sciences

August 13, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Following a national search, we are pleased to announce that Steven Kahn has been appointed dean of the Division of Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) in the College of Letters & Science, with an anticipated start date of June 1, 2022.

Steve will join us from Stanford University, where he is the Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor in the natural sciences, a professor of physics, and a professor of particle physics and astrophysics at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Steve also serves as the director of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, a large national construction project funded by the National Science Foundation through the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and by the Department of Energy through SLAC. 

Steve is no stranger to our campus, having previously served as a professor of physics and astronomy after earning his doctoral degree from UC Berkeley. He has also held academic appointments as a professor of physics and astronomy at Columbia University. His prior administrative posts include serving as chair of the Department of Physics at both Columbia and Stanford.

Steve’s research interests include work in high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy and experimental cosmology. He has received a number of distinctions, including election to Fellowship in the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

With a unique combination of academic, research, and leadership experience under his belt, Steve is well positioned to take on the challenges of the dean role. He has a proven track record of fostering collaboration, recruiting and retaining exceptional faculty, generating philanthropic support, furthering diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives, and supporting talented staff — all traits we looked for in this recruitment. You can learn more about Steve on the Letters & Science website.

Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismology lab, began serving as the interim dean of MPS on July 1, 2021, and will continue in this role until Steve’s arrival. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the search committee for their efforts in the search process, and Richard Allen for his willingness to serve as interim dean. We would also like to express our gratitude to outgoing dean Frances Hellman for her many years of leadership and service to the MPS division and to campus. 

Please join us in welcoming Steve back to the UC Berkeley campus and in supporting his success in the Division of Mathematical & Physical Sciences.


Carol T. ChristChancellor

Catherine P. Koshland

Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost