While Henrik von der Lippe is a man of relatively few words, his significant contributions to Berkeley Lab speak volumes. His important technical contributions to major research endeavors continue to enable new scientific breakthroughs. He has served the Berkeley Lab community as a mentor and role model, and his early advocacy for interdisciplinary collaboration and for the Lab’s inclusion and diversity efforts (IDEA) will stand as lasting contributions to our Lab’s research and work environment.

His long tenure at has been distinguished by strong partnerships that have led to the Engineering Division’s robust integration into research programs and projects across all parts of the Laboratory. Under his leadership, the Engineering Division has almost doubled in size – from 250 to over 450 staff members – and become a key collaborator in enabling the success of many large-scale LBNL-led projects such as DESI and LZ, and ongoing projects such as GRETA, CMB-S4, and the ALS-U.

Von der Lippe first came to Berkeley Lab for a brief sabbatical in 1993 while working at SINTEF, a Norwegian national laboratory. As a visiting scholar in the Engineering Division’s Integrated Circuits (IC) Design Group, he worked on the Lab’s development of the avalanche photodiode readout and an X-ray line camera.

The BaBar Detector at SLAC with a physicist inside wearing a red hard hat, 2002. Credit: Peter Ginter, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Photo URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/slaclab/30700387206/in/album-72157686223232275/He was first hired as a staff engineer in 1997 to work on the development of an innovative new integrated circuit system for the BaBar detector at SLAC (Photo right: The BaBar Detector at SLAC with a physicist inside wearing a red hard hat, 2002. Credit: Peter Ginter, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) BaBar was an experiment to study the B-meson, and Berkeley Lab had taken responsibility for a unique electronics project led by Michael Levi in the Physics Division. BaBar’s “wire drift chamber” system used custom IC electronics to digitize the signals on the detector. Using high-level simulation and modeling methods, von der Lippe developed BaBar’s drift chamber readout circuit (ASIC) – the Elefant digitizer IC – as well as its charged track trigger system, both of which represented major technological developments utilizing state-of-the-art designs.

His contributions to BaBar’s technological advancements enabled von der Lippe to achieve one of his early professional goals of becoming a department head in the electronics industry, and in 1998, he returned to Norway to work for Tandberg Data.

Saul Perlmutter and Michael Levi with Berkeley Lab’s full-scale model of SNAP, March 2008. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley LabIn 2000, he returned to Berkeley Lab to lead the IC Design Group. Working again with Michael Levi, he focused his technical expertise on DOE’s Supernova Acceleration Probe (SNAP). (Photo left: Saul Perlmutter and Michael Levi with Berkeley Lab’s full-scale model of SNAP, March 2008. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab) “By then, we were building electronics for the SNAP satellite,” observes Levi, “and Henrik was skillful in both the specifics of electronics design, both at the board-level and in custom ASIC design, and later in coordination and management of large electronics projects.” Von der Lippe’s work was instrumental in enabling the increased light sensitivity that was required for the SNAP satellite mission, and he led the project design team for the telescope’s imaging sensor readout (CRIC chip) and sensor controller (the CLIC chip). “Our collaboration was very fruitful,” continues Levi, “and we must have published several dozen papers on these electronics projects.”

Henrik von der Lippe holds a CCD-based x-ray imaging camera using the tech developed on the SNAP project, June 2024. Photo credit: Marsha Fenner, Berkeley LabThe CRIC chip was one of the many ICs developed by the Engineering Division at that time that transferred from one scientific field to another. The CCD applications were transferred from high energy physics to soft X-ray imaging, and the CMOS imagers – which were developed for electron imaging – later became the proof-of-principle for an innovative new direct detector being developed by Peter Denes, whose work played a key role in the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Denes, a pioneer in cryo-EM (cryogenic electron microscope imaging technology), later developed a new detector known as the “4D Camera” (for “dynamic diffraction direct detector”). (Photo right: Henrik holds a CCD-based X-ray imaging camera using the tech developed on the SNAP project, June 2024. Credit: Marsha Fenner, Berkeley Lab)

After another brief stint at Tandberg Data (2005-2006), he returned to Berkeley Lab in 2007 to focus his career on what he most enjoys: working with strong research teams to address scientific goals and to push technology toward new, wider horizons. Says von der Lippe, “I like working with people, working with so many brilliant researchers, engineers, and the incredible projects underway at the Lab, and enabling their success.”

Von der Lippe became Engineering Division Deputy and head of the Electronics, Software and Instrumentation Engineering Department, hired by then-Engineering Division Director Kem Robinson, in 2007. “Henrik is a pleasure to work with and was the best choice for the position having actively collaborated with several scientific partner areas across the Lab. He was also a member of the Engineering Task Force in 2003 that charted the evolution of Engineering from an operations entity into a full scientific division.” In these positions, von der Lippe focused on resource development and recruiting, as well as expanding the Lab’s infrastructure and capabilities to enable the development of enhanced technology applications for new instrumentation projects.

When he was appointed Acting Division Director for Engineering in 2015, and then hired as Engineering Division Director in 2016 (by James Symons, then Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences), von der Lippe engaged in earnest, stepping into active partnerships with Divisions and projects across the Laboratory including GRETINA, LZ, the ALS, and eventually, the ALS Upgrade (ALS-U) project. He describes the changing landscape of project management at this time as a shift to a more structured approach to planning, coordination, and phased completion that started in the mid-2010s and that the Lab has maintained ever since. According to von der Lippe, “I found it very useful to establish good relationships with all of our partner divisions and be directly involved in the scientific projects and programs at the Laboratory.”

DESI at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, May 2018. Photo Credit: Marilyn SargentIt was at this time that he developed a significant engagement with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), specifically in efforts to align the Engineering Division’s capabilities and expertise to partner with the Physics Division and make the DESI project a success (Photo left: DESI at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, May 2018. Credit: Marilyn Sargent). Levi, now director of DESI, became a close collaborator once again. “The cool thing about DESI,” notes von der Lippe, “is that is a one-of-a-kind project that brings together a group of people with such diverse skills and expertise, applied to a variety of efforts, across a variety of disciplines. DESI’s unique instrumentation, and its various aspects of mass production, quality assurance, and complex assembly… I like that.”

Also at this time, he started working with Dave Robin, then the ALS’ Deputy for Accelerator Operations and later appointed project director of the Advanced Light Source Upgrade (ALS-U), cultivating a strong working relationship in the early stages leading into the project. “It became clear to me that there was a need for a strong collaborative institutional effort to enable the ALS-U, and that the Engineering Division should be an active contributor in order to ensure that good engineering decisions would be made for the early technical solutions and directions for the project,” says von der Lippe. “It was important to me that he, and the ALS, saw in me, and the Engineering Division, a valuable and essential partner for the success of the ALS-U.”

Robin describes the challenging hiring process as a “Herculean effort” that required attention to both the challenges of onboarding enough staff and also ensuring that new staff were assigned correctly for optimal effectiveness: “From the beginning, the ALS-U project team that eventually grew to 200-plus people has consisted of about 80% Engineering Division staff, so we have been intimately linked, spending considerable time on key hires for talented engineers in very specialized areas.” (Photo below: Interior panorama of the ALS storage ring and beamlines at Berkeley Lab, 2010. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab)

Interior panorama of the ALS storage ring and beamlines at Berkeley Lab, 2010. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley LabFor the ALS-U collaboration, Robin also complemented von der Lippe’s foresight in setting up adequate space, then making sure to advocate for investments in enhanced infrastructure and capabilities that would benefit the Laboratory over the long term: “Henrik saw this opportunity and drove these upgrades to modernize Berkeley Lab’s infrastructure, and thus be in a much better position to engage in future projects.” Robin also remarked that “Henrik has always worked very closely with the scientific and the operations divisions to improve processes and effectiveness. He’s really good at breaking down barriers, he is proactive, trying to find solutions, trying to make things better. He’s thinking about the impact of our work on the whole lab, not just focused on what’s important to the Engineering Division.”

“Henrik has been a wonderful partner, and he has always been very approachable and accessible,” summarizes Robin. “He cares about people, and he cares about diversity in a genuine way. I really appreciate that, and I’m really going to miss him.”

Dimitri Argyriou, who was named director of the Advanced Light Source in June 2023, worked with von der Lippe on preparing the ALS to benefit from the upgrade, which will be commissioned in 2027. According to Argyriou, “Henrik is always thoughtful, insightful, and most genuinely helpful. His agenda was always on full display, and he would think of things even before the thought dawned on you. And he did this in the best of very dry Nordic humor. It was difficult not to smile sometimes, even if the conversation was very serious and sometimes tough. I will miss Henrik, my dear colleague, partner, and friend very much.”

Von der Lippe also cultivated a strong working relationship with Mark Asta, who is now the Executive Associate Dean in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division (MSD) Director from 2018 to 2022. Asta complements Henrik as “an outstanding colleague, partner, and mentor. I appreciated how he took the time to understand MSD’s strategic goals, what we were trying to accomplish, and to offer creative ideas for ways to work together to move things forward. He was a mentor to me when I first started in the Division Director role, and he instilled in me a profound respect for our dedicated staff. His efforts to build community and respect between different parts of the Lab were essential in building community and a sense of teamwork.“

As a strong advocate for expanding diversity and inclusivity in Berkeley Lab’s work environment, von der Lippe became an early supporter of bringing the IDEA principles to the Lab, serving as one of the inaugural members of the Lab’s IDEA Senior Leadership Council. He has sponsored many IDEA initiatives and events over the years and served as an executive co-sponsor of the Women’s Support and Empowerment Council (WSEC, formerly Women Scientists and Engineers Council), working with talented and inspirational women and other IDEA supporters, using his voice with senior laboratory leadership to advocate for WSEC initiatives and women employees.

“There are many experiences that have inspired me, that have planted a seed in me to move toward establishing a more diverse workforce in all directions,” says von der Lippe. “By becoming more aware of the innate cultural and gender differences inherent in our society, we can try to avoid the biases that lead to prejudices and inequities. Appreciating and honoring a broader diversity of thoughts and perspectives helps us find better solutions to technical challenges.”

In 2020, he was appointed to serve in an additional, newly-created role as Laboratory Chief Engineer. In this role, he coordinated the lab-wide Conduct of Engineering, which had originally been developed in 2014 for the Engineering Division by Division Deputy Daniella Leitner. Now, this reference book is used by some of our sister laboratories as a starting point in the development of their own handbooks.

Fellow Division Director Cameron Geddes, of the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, applauds von der Lippe’s contributions to Berkeley Lab’s culture and his efficient integration of engineering efforts across so many successful projects representing the breadth of our Laboratory’s research portfolio. “Henrik has led the Lab in having a strong matrixed engineering division that provides both strong support to all of our science and career paths and motivation for our engineering and technical staff. This is something that distinguishes us as a Lab and enables us to deliver top quality science, operations, and projects, including the integrated Engineering-ATAP team delivering the cabling for HL-LHC-AUP, the undulators for the LCLS family of projects, and the 2nd Beamline for the BELLA laser.”

Physics Division Director Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, who has worked with Henrik since her arrival at Berkeley Lab in 2021, remarks that “it’s been a real pleasure to work with Henrik. He shows genuine interest in physics and in strong collaborations between the physics and engineering divisions. He has led with amazing skill the matrixed engineering division, constantly seeking the best match between the engineers’ skills and the physicists’ needs, enabling Berkeley Lab to continue to shine with innovative technologies and successful projects.”

Nuclear Science Division Director, Reiner Kruecken, who began working with Henrik in 2022, describes von der Lippe as “a very strong and cooperative leader who has welcomed me graciously with much support for the various activities that his matrixed staff are supporting in NSD. He helped me understand some of the important challenges within the matrixed organization and always had an open ear and thoughtful advice.”

Photo left: Von der Lippe with Roe and Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell, March 2023. Credit: Thor Swift, Berkeley LabNatalie Roe, now Berkeley Lab’s Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences, first worked with von der Lippe early on in his Lab career when she was leading the development of BaBar’s Silicon Vertex Tracker. (Photo left: Von der Lippe with Roe and Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell, March 2023. Credit: Thor Swift, Berkeley Lab) “It has been my pleasure to work with Henrik for many years, in both technical and management roles. Henrik has personified the Engineering Division, taking the time to meet with all the Division and Project leaders, understand their needs, and come up with staffing solutions despite a very tight job market in recent years. He has also been a strong advocate for the Engineering Division staff and for lab investment in the infrastructure that is critical to support cutting edge technological developments”

Von der Lippe describes his professional journey at Berkeley Lab as having been primarily motivated by the gratification of being an active participant in science and advanced technology development, and the fulfillment in seeing one’s colleagues have success. “I hope all staff at Berkeley Lab get to have similar experiences and opportunities to work with teams of brilliant researchers and engineers and to be involved in pushing technology and science.”

As von der Lippe transitions to life after Berkeley Lab, we celebrate his accomplishments and achievements that have changed the way the Lab functions as an organization, and the ways he has set the stage for new horizons in partnership, collaboration, diversity, and inclusion.

Thank you, Henrik. We wish you the very best!

Henrik von der Lippe (right) with Ross Schlueter, who will become Interim Engineering Director on July 1, 2024. (June 2024) (Photo credit: Marsha Fenner)

Henrik von der Lippe (right) with Ross Schlueter, appointed Interim Engineering Director effective July 1. (June 2024) Credit: Marsha Fenner, Berkeley Lab