Fermilab Today Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
Director's Corner

An eventful week

Members of the Project X team from universities, laboratories and DOE met in Germantown last week.

Last Wednesday we had a briefing for the DOE high energy physics program managers on Project X. This preliminary step in the process of determining mission need or CD-0 is the first hurdle we must pass to turn Project X into a real project as we follow the DOE project management system. The group presenting Project X included folks from Fermilab, Argonne and universities.  Stan Wojcicki traveled from Stanford University, Doug Bryman from the University of British Columbia and Yoshi Kuno from Osaka University to make presentations on the physics of neutrinos, kaons and muons, respectively.  In addition to these physics presentations, the briefing included my presentation on the overall strategy; Joe Lykken's presentation on the physics of the Intensity Frontier; Steve Holmes' presentation on Project X; and Jerry Nolen's presentation on the opportunities for fundamental measurement using nuclei and the use of Project X for energy issues.  Project X gives us a very broad program that would be unmatched in the world at the Intensity Frontier and would give our nation a leadership position in particle physics for decades to come.

On the following two days, Thursday and Friday, HEPAP met and listened to presentations on a series of interesting topics.  The most dramatic and unexpected moment  occurred  at the end of the HEPAP meeting when Dennis Kovar, the leader of the DOE High Energy Physics Office, announced that he was stepping down at the end of the year. Dennis Kovar has done an outstanding job for our field.  He came to us with vast experience having successfully led the Office of Nuclear Physics.  Dennis Kovar is one of the most knowledgeable managers in DOE and was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Service in 2008. He has guided our field effectively in very turbulent times, and we will miss his leadership. 

Dennis Kovar was appointed to the office after a drastic change of plans concerning the International Linear Collider called for a new strategic plan for our field.  Two months after his appointment the roof caved in when, in the rush of producing an omnibus spending bill, Congress rained chaos on the field with a severe budget cut midway through the fiscal year.  NOvA and R&D for the ILC were explicitly zeroed out, and SLAC’s PEP II B factory had to close sooner than planned.  From this miserable situation he inherited, Dennis Kovar made tough decisions to stabilize the field. His actions gave us enough flexibility to keep projects alive until the situation could be resolved through a supplemental appropriation later in the year.  Through P5, Dennis Kovar engaged and guided the community in developing  a realistic strategy that has been well supported by DOE and Congress.  At Fermilab, he established CD-0 for both LBNE and Mu2e, CD-1 for MicroBooNE and supported the extension of the Tevatron through FY2011. He saw the successful completion of MINERvA and the so-far-successful construction of the Dark Energy Survey's camera.  He continued to support the vast LHC program, the R&D program on the linear collider, and the development of SRF technology.  He successfully obtained ARRA funds for our field, repairing much of the damage done in FY2008 and putting us ahead in several projects and improvements to our site.  He has pushed the agenda for advanced accelerator science, has supported the muon accelerator program aimed at neutrino factories and muon colliders, and he has championed the benefits of accelerator research to society.  Dennis Kovar has given us a broad and strong foundation that will serve us well into the future.  He will be very hard to replace, and we owe him a big debt of gratitude. 

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