Barry M. Klein Begins a New Chapter – And is Welcomed to the AFBSF Board

Barry M. Klein making introductory remarks at the UC Davis Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology

Since his recent retirement as Vice-Chancellor for Research and Professor of Physics at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), Barry M. Klein is looking ahead to his next phase of life, one he envisions filled with handpicked volunteer projects. “I want to use my skills and wisdom for good causes and to give back to society,” he said. Through his friend and colleague Al Teich, current chair of the AFBSF, Klein learned about an opening on the AFBSF board of directors and he gladly put in his hat. A big supporter of Israel, Klein said, “What could be more important than supporting collaboration between Israeli and American scientists? With support for Israel on University campuses called into question, I want to lend my support for the only democracy in the Middle East. I want to help motivate people to support Israel, our strong intellectual and spiritual partner.”

Klein received his Ph.D. in condensed matter theory from New York University in 1969 following an undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics from NYU in 1962. He has had a long career in research and teaching and in academic and government laboratory leadership. Said Klein that after a 23 year career with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where he built research teams using theory and computation to predict new materials, he, “joined the physics department at UC Davis as chair where I headed the department while it was in a growth mode, from 1992 to 1998. Then I was asked to take the position of Vice-Provost for Academic Personnel, and after a few years the Chancellor asked me to serve as Vice-Chancellor for Research.”

During the decade he served as Vice-Chancellor for Research at UC Davis, research funding more than doubled to $670 million per year. He had an opportunity to help connect Israeli scientists with colleagues at UC Davis on a number of projects. As the climate in Davis, California is similar to that of Israel, it was a natural fit for UC Davis scientists to collaborate with Israelis on such topics as animal husbandry and agriculture, among others.

Today, Klein still engages in research on the UC Davis campus and with colleagues around the globe. His condensed matter research efforts have been in electronic structure theory and applications, studying the fundamental properties of condensed matter systems using theoretical and computational approaches to help in the development of materials with enhanced desirable properties. “Take the transmission of electricity from the power plant to the home,” Klein explained. “A great deal of energy is lost due to the electrical resistance of the wires. A major part of my research has been to study ‘superconductors’ that conduct without resistance at very low temperatures, looking to discover materials that superconduct at or close to room temperature. Such a discovery would have tremendous impact on energy efficiency, global warming, and geopolitical issues. Recent work by me and my colleagues and others around the globe has been encouraging.”

He and his wife love to travel and they used his initial retirement months to go to their favorite area – the Caribbean. They also traveled to South Africa and the Far East. And, with four children and four grandchildren, he and his wife stay active with their growing family. When not traveling or in his research laboratory, Klein plays bridge and is an avid hockey fan, a sport he has followed since childhood.

“I just left my last job in August, that of Director of the McClellan Nuclear Research Center at UC Davis,” said Klein. “Now I can really turn my attention to using my experience and network of colleagues in the research community to further societal betterment. I look forward to my board service at AFBSF as an opportunity to add value to the organization through the relationships I have built over the years.”