Director's Corner Archive

Every Tuesday, a new Fermilab Director's Corner appears in Fermilab Today, Fermilab's daily email publication for employees, users and subscribers.

Fermilab Director's Corner Archive – 2014

December 09, 2014
Toward a strong, international neutrino collaboration

Fermilab has always been an international laboratory. With the proposed Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility based here at Fermilab, we're about to enter a bold new era of global cooperation.

This Friday, Dec. 12, Fermilab will host the second of two open meetings about LBNF. These meetings are a big step toward forming a strong collaboration with partners across the globe, with the goal of building the best neutrino experiment of its kind in the world.

Last Friday, the first of these meetings took place at CERN. We introduced CERN's Director of Research Sergio Bertolucci as the interim chair of the International Institutional Board of the new collaboration, and we explained the organizational structure that we plan to put in place, with input and participation from international funding agencies.

Nov. 25, 2014
Welcoming community leaders

Fermilab has long enjoyed a strong and positive relationship with the local community. Nevertheless, we are always looking for new ways to strengthen that relationship.

Last Tuesday night, we invited about a hundred leaders from our local community to the laboratory for an event called the Future of Fermilab Address and Reception. Attendees included the mayors of Warrenville and Batavia, aldermen, other elected officials from many of the lab's neighboring towns and counties, school board members, educators from local schools and universities, and representatives from companies throughout Chicagoland.

Nov. 11, 2014
Fermilab's people, science, technology showcased last week

Newly confirmed Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall visited Fermilab last Thursday afternoon. After meeting with several DOE Early Career Research awardees, she addressed employees and users during an all-hands meeting. During her remarks, she stressed DOE's support of the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and strengthening and expanding international partnerships.

Oct. 28, 2014
Mu2e moves ahead

In continued alignment with goals laid out in the P5 report, we're making progress on our newest muon experiment, Mu2e. A four-day DOE Critical Decision 2/3b review of the experiment concluded Friday. The review went extremely well and validated the design, technical progress, and the cost and schedule of the project. The reviewers praised the depth and breadth of our staff's excellent technical work and preparation. Official sign-off for CD-2/3b is expected in the next several months, followed by construction on the Mu2e building in early 2015. Construction on the transport solenoid modules should begin in the spring. The experiment received CD-0 approval in 2009 and CD-1 approval in 2012 and is slated to start up in 2020.

Oct. 14, 2014
Celebrating NOvA

Last week we joined the NOvA collaboration in celebrating the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work. Five years after shovels were first put into the ground and two years after construction began in earnest on the far detector in Minnesota, both the near and far detectors of NOvA are complete. And with CD-4 approval from the Department of Energy in place, the experiment has truly begun.

Sept. 30, 2014
ROC West opens

The new west remote operations center, or ROC West, is open for business in Wilson Hall. Construction, which began in March, is on schedule and nearly complete. A few details remain, including restoring the stairway to the ground floor over the next few weeks.

Supporting the P5 plan, ROC West will serve as a centralized hub for scientists who work on Fermilab's neutrino and muon experiments (LBNF, MicroBooNE, MINERvA, MiniBooNE, MINOS, Mu2e, Muon g-2 and NOvA), similar to ROC East for the CMS experiment. ROC West's open-concept design and layout allow for future experiments to be accommodated as well.

Sept. 16, 2014
Getting involved

Groucho Marx famously remarked that he would not join a club that would have him as a member. Despite that characteristically flippant response, he was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and a prominent member of several other clubs. Groucho understood that he needed an organization that could speak for professionals within his community and for his field as a whole.

Professional organizations play an important role for many of us, including scientists, engineers, computing professionals, finance personnel, project managers and individuals in many other specialties. These organizations support people in their careers by providing news, standards, career advice and sometimes certifications.

Sept. 02, 2014
The road to the top

Fermilab is poised to host a world-leading accelerator-based neutrino program and to deliver on several key laboratory initiatives such as PIP-II, muon and cosmic experiments and new particle searches at the LHC. One of the ways we can ensure our success is to focus on working smarter.

Over the past several years, Fermilab introduced and implemented the human performance improvement (HPI) process in many key areas of the lab to improve efficiency, productivity, quality and safety. In areas of the lab where this philosophy has been embraced, we have seen marked improvements in work efficiency, staff morale and reduction in injury rates and injury severity.

Aug. 27, 2014
Restructuring the FRA Board

Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermilab for the U.S. Department of Energy and a partnership between the University of Chicago and Universities Research Association, is reorganizing its board of directors this fall to best support the laboratory as it shapes its future as a world-leading scientific institution, working in close partnership with the scientific community to ensure a bright future for U.S. particle physics.

Aug. 19, 2014
Doing our part to make the P5 vision a reality

Three months ago the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) released its recommendations for the future of particle physics in the United States. Many lab employees, users and members of the broader scientific community have worked hard this summer to kick-start the effort to achieve the P5 vision. Today's column provides an update of where we stand in our effort to align the lab's priorities and activities to match those recommended by P5.

Aug. 5, 2014
Muon g-2 milestones

It's a busy summer — and not only for the neutrino community. The Muon g-2 experiment passed another milestone last week when its superconducting magnet finally moved into the experimental hall on the Muon Campus. The move went flawlessly, and the magnet is now being prepared for operation. The hall will continue to be a hive of activity over the next few weeks, with engineers and technicians carefully placing the magnet in its final data-taking configuration on top of a steel support ring. The next steps include completing the cryogenic system, connecting the magnet to the liquid-helium source and preparing the power supplies. The schedule calls for cool-down early in 2015.

July 22, 2014
Mu2e moves forward

Today's column shines a spotlight on the next major experiment proposed to be built at Fermilab: Mu2e. The recent P5 report placed Mu2e first in line for construction among major projects, to be followed immediately by the high-luminosity LHC and then by LBNF.

The Mu2e project took a big step forward two weeks ago when DOE approved the CD-3a step in the construction process. Until now, the team had been focused on the development of a detailed design for the experiment, including modifications to the Fermilab accelerator facility and a new hall to house the detector. CD-3a approval means that the team can purchase 45 miles of custom-made superconducting cables for the experiment's solenoid magnets.

July 8, 2014
A new approach

Fermilab's future is looking bright, following the release of the P5 report, which strongly recommends that the United States pursue a world-leading neutrino physics program hosted at Fermilab. Several additional key projects that Fermilab leads or participates in were also endorsed, including the CMS Phase I and Phase II upgrades, Mu2e, Muon g-2 and experiments to study dark energy, dark matter and the cosmic microwave background.

A new approach to our organization is required if we are to be successful in building all of these projects over the next decade while operating the accelerator complex at ever higher power for the neutrino program.

June 24, 2014
A key partnership

We will need to build many new partnerships — and strengthen many existing ones — over the coming years as we strive to turn the P5 vision for our country and our lab into reality. But our relationship with Department of Energy will continue to be most important for future success.

A visit by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to the Chicago area last week provided us with an opportunity to enhance the strength of this key partnership. On Thursday I spoke at a meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board held at Argonne National Laboratory. SEAB, as it's known, is a distinguished group that provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary on all of the department's activities.

June 10, 2014
Communicating and implementing P5

There has been a lot of activity in the U.S. particle physics community and at Fermilab in the two weeks since the P5 report was presented to and accepted by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel. The work is going forward on two fronts: communicating the report and its implications to our many national and international stakeholders and analyzing how we can best advance and implement the report's recommendations.

May 23, 2014
A new plan for U.S. particle physics

The planning process for the future of U.S. particle physics came to a close yesterday with the presentation of the report of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel. The P5 report lays out a 10-year prioritized strategy for U.S. particle physics that keeps our country — and our laboratory — at the forefront of research and discovery.

With the approval of the members of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, the P5 report provides advice from our community to the Department of Energy and to the National Science Foundation for the agencies to consider when allocating funding for our field and for individual projects.

May 13, 2014
Center for Integrated Engineering Research

If you attended the all-hands meeting back in February, you may remember the presentation on the Fermilab Campus Master Plan. The plan includes recommendations for consolidating, centralizing and modernizing the Fermilab site, which will help ensure that our infrastructure can efficiently and effectively support the laboratory's mission now and in the future.

The highest-priority facility in the Master Plan is the Center for Integrated Engineering Research, which will house office space for engineering, technical and project staff and users, as well as laboratory, shop and cleanroom space.

April 29, 2014
Cultivating innovation

A new initiative has been launched at Fermilab: the DOE-sponsored Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, or LDRD.

As a participant in LDRD, Fermilab will join other national laboratories in setting aside funds each year for small-scale, proof-of-principle or innovative research projects in science and technology. These funds are open to Fermilab employees who propose to become the principal investigator of an LDRD project. LDRD projects are awarded based on a competitive review process of proposals. The projects must be relevant to the mission of DOE and Fermilab, address innovative science and technology, and must be outside the existing scope of current programmatic activities and projects.

April 15, 2014
Connecting with our neighbors

As of this weekend, Fermilab's celebration of the life and work of famed particle physicist Richard Feynman is in full swing.

On Saturday night, hundreds of people from local communities joined us at the laboratory to kick off this celebration with a concert by Huun Huur Tu: Throat Singers of Tuva, a talk by Feynman's friend Ralph Leighton, and the opening of an exhibit of Feynman diagram art by Yale professor, statistician and artist Edward Tufte. By all accounts the event was a success.

April 1, 2014
A cosmic week at Fermilab

Scientists studying the cosmic microwave background (CMB) have made another large discovery. The announcement of evidence for gravitational waves from the universe's inflationary epoch has a lot of people excited and was the talk of the week among particle physicists at Fermilab. It is truly impressive how much information has been extracted from the light that was generated 380,000 years after the big bang. For a particle physicist, the big question is, "What does it mean?".

March 4, 2014
Neutrino news

This month, we moved a step closer to completing on time and on budget the most ambitious construction project that Fermilab has taken on in the last 10 years, the NOvA experiment. The construction of this project started in 2009. With the help of the Department of Energy, the University of Minnesota, Caltech and many other institutions and funding agencies, all detector modules are now in place. The first segments in Ash River are recording neutrinos from Fermilab accelerator complex. The remainder of the work will be finished this summer. This is a major achievement for everybody involved, and I thank you for your work and dedication.

February 04, 2014
Acting on your feedback

In September an online feedback form was made available for Fermilab employees to submit comments and suggestions on how to make Fermilab a more productive and vibrant place to work. Thank you to the 173 employees who took the time to send many thoughtful ideas. This column will briefly summarize the actions we've taken in response to the feedback that you provided over the past four months.

Almost half of the items you submitted either have been completed or are in progress.

Jan 21, 2014
Good FY14 budget news

Last week, Congress passed and the President signed into law an omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government through the end of September. The bill contains good news for U.S. particle physics and for our laboratory.

Funding for the two federal agencies that supply most U.S. particle physics funding — the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Science Foundation — is up about four percent from FY13. The Department of Energy's Office of High Energy Physics, which provides more than 90 percent of Fermilab's funding, will receive $797 million for this fiscal year.

Jan. 7, 2014
Our focus for 2014

Happy New Year. I hope everyone had an enjoyable break -- there is nothing like the holiday season to clear the mind and recharge the batteries!

The year ahead will be an important one for defining the long-term vision for Fermilab. Here are a few highlights of what we can look forward to in 2014.

The final report from the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5): The U.S. particle physics community’s planning process kicked off last fall with the establishment of a new P5 committee.

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