Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 22  |  Friday, July 2, 1999  |  Number 13
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

Witherell Starts Work

New director adds Holmes, Shaevitz as associate directors.

By Judy Jackson

Fermilab’s fourth director, Michael S. Witherell, officially began his job as leader of the nation’s largest high-energy physics laboratory on Thursday, July 1. As he moved into the traditional Fermilab director’s office on Wilson Hall’s second floor, Witherell called on the support of all at the laboratory.

"This is a time of great opportunity for Fermilab," Witherell said, "but we also face many challenges and hard decisions about the future. Our success will require the active involvement and the best efforts of the entire Fermilab community, all of us working together."

The director announced the establishment of two new positions to create a scientific leadership team in the Fermilab directorate. Former Beams Division Head Stephen Holmes will serve as associate director for accelerators. Columbia University physicist Michael Shaevitz, former director of Columbia’s Nevis Laboratory, will be the new associate director for research. Deputy director Kenneth Stanfield will continue in his current position.

"We need a strong team in the Directorate to manage the Lab," Witherell said. "I have appointed associate directors to oversee the two main scientific components of the laboratory, the accelerators and the research program. I will have many other responsibilities, including dealing with people in Washington. With such a large and diverse laboratory, we need people to worry full time about our scientific mission. I am delighted to have a strong team—Ken Stanfield, Steve Holmes and Mike Shaevitz—in place to work with me on the scientific program."

Some aspects of lab management will remain constant.

"The administrative and operations side of the laboratory is working very well," Witherell said, "and I am pleased that Bruce Chrisman and George Robertson have agreed to stay on in their respective positions as associate director for administration and associate director for operations support."

Fermilab physicist John Marriner will become head of the Beams Division, and Tom Nash will serve as special advisor to the director on computing and government policy, with responsibility for computer security and related matters. Particle Physics Division Head John Cooper, Technical Division Head Peter Limon and Computing Division Head Matthias Kasemann will continue in their positions.

Fermilab: the place to be

Shaevitz brings the perspective of a long-term Fermilab user to his new post as associate director for research.

"My research career over the past twenty years has centered on Fermilab, and I am glad to be able to offer some return on the Lab’s investment," Shaevitz said on accepting the appointment. "Over the next decade, Fermilab will be at the forefront in the field with, in my opinion, the most promising program for making fundamental discoveries. Combined with the potential for future projects at the energy frontier, this makes Fermilab the place to be. Having an opportunity to shape the future of particle physics is important to me, and Fermilab offers the most diverse opportunities. Over the next five years, I would like to help exploit the physics opportunities at the Lab and set up the groundwork for future projects. I am looking forward to working with Mike Witherell and others to make this all happen."

For Holmes, the move from an office just a few feet from the accelerator’s Main Control Room, to the Wilson Hall second floor, represents an opportunity to shift focus from managing the Main Injector project and operating the Fermilab accelerators to a consideration of the future direction of accelerator physics at Fermilab and for the field.

"Having relinquished responsibility for day-to-day accelerator operations, I now have time to work with the Beams Division and the Technical Division on long-term issues," Holmes said. "My primary goal is to get accelerator people from different divisions in position to be a strong resource for establishing the future direction for our lab and for our field. These are people who built and operate the highest-energy accelerator in the world. I am here to assist them in pursuing the accelerator R&D that will establish our future. One of my roles is to be an advocate in the Directorate for accelerator R&D."

Holmes said he is leaving Fermilab accelerator operations in good hands.

"John Marriner, the new Beams Division head, has worked on nearly all aspects of Fermilab’s accelerators, and he is widely recognized both within the laboratory and beyond as one of the world’s foremost accelerator experts. I think he knows as much about how Fermilab’s accelerators work as anyone on the planet."

Meeting last week at Fermilab’s annual Physics Advisory Committee retreat in Aspen, Colorado, physicists from many other institutions echoed the sense of optimism and excitement combined with concern for Fermilab’s future expressed by Witherell and his new leadership team. Holmes summed up the prevailing view at the start of a new chapter in the Laboratory’s history.

"This is a crucial period for Fermilab," he said. "We are on the threshold of what promises to be a golden age for physics at our laboratory. We are uniquely positioned at the forefront of particle physics, with upgrades that will greatly extend our scientific reach. But the time will come when we are no longer in this position. The challenge is to define the future. The answers are not obvious, and there are many constraints, but we are committed to finding them."

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