Contact Dr. Russell Hemley, 202-478-8951,

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Washington, D.C. The Carnegie Institution announced today that longtime staff member Russell J. Hemley will become the Geophysical Laboratory’s tenth director on July 1, 2007, succeeding Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., as he steps down from that position.

“Dr. Hemley’s leadership has been pivotal in establishing Carnegie’s world stature in high-pressure physics,” remarked Carnegie president Richard A. Meserve. “He follows in the steps of luminaries in geology, physics, and chemistry who have led the lab since it was founded in 1905. I am certain that, with Rus at the helm, the lab will be stronger than ever.”

Hemley has been a staff scientist at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory since 1987. Born in Berkeley, California, he grew up in the Golden State and in Colorado and Utah. He studied chemistry and philosophy at Wesleyan University, where he obtained his B.A. in 1977. He went on to Harvard for graduate work in physical chemistry and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1983. He then joined the Geophysical Laboratory as a Carnegie fellow, a position he held from 1984 to 1987, at which time he was appointed a staff scientist.

Interested in both materials science and planetary science, Hemley studies the behavior of Earth and planetary materials at high pressures. He discovers new materials and new physical transformations along the way including superhard materials, superconductors, and magnetic materials. He also develops new high-pressure methods and analytical techniques such as micro-optical spectroscopy, synchrotron infrared spectroscopy, synchrotron X-ray diffraction and spectroscopy, laser heating, magnetic susceptibility, electrical conductivity, and high-pressure cryogenic methods.

Hemley has published over 480 scientific papers and has six patents awarded or pending. He was a visiting professor at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon, France, and at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the recipient of the 2005 Balzan Prize in Mineral Physics, the 2003 Hillebrand Medal of the American Chemical Society, and the 1990 Mineralogical Society of America Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, and the Mineralogical Society of America.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington (, a private nonprofit organization, has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It has six research departments: the Geophysical Laboratory and the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, both located in Washington, D.C.; The Observatories, in Pasadena, California, and Chile; the Department of Plant Biology and the Department of Global Ecology, in Stanford, California; and the Department of Embryology, in Baltimore, Maryland.