Science connects continents

The signing ceremony was the grand finale of the visit to Fermilab by Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt. From left: General Consul to Australia in Chicago Michael Wood; Hunt; Director of the Australian consortium CoEPP Geoff Taylor; Fermilab Head of the Theoretical Physics Group Marcela Carena; Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer; DOE Fermi Site Office Deputy Manager Mark Bollinger. Photo: Reidar Hahn

The signing ceremony was the grand finale of the visit to Fermilab by Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt. From left: General Consul to Australia in Chicago Michael Wood; Hunt; Director of the Australian consortium CoEPP Geoff Taylor; Fermilab Head of the Theoretical Physics Group Marcela Carena; Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer; DOE Fermi Site Office Deputy Manager Mark Bollinger. Photo: Reidar Hahn

On Oct. 28 at Fermilab, Marcela Carena, head of Fermilab’s theoretical physics group, and Geoff Taylor, director of the Australian consortium CoEPP, took an important first step in building a stronger science partnership between their two countries: They formally launched a new agreement between Fermilab and CoEPP to encourage the mutual exchange of expertise in the area of particle physics.

The importance of bringing scientists of both countries closer together was underlined by the attendance of the Australian minister for industry, innovation and science, Greg Hunt, who witnessed the ceremony during his visit to Fermilab. Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer and DOE Fermi Site Office Manager Michael Weis hosted the visit by Hunt.

CoEPP, the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale, is a collaboration between four Australian universities to coordinate their research activities in particle physics. The four universities are the University of Melbourne, University of Adelaide, University of Sydney and Monash University.

This agreement, called an I-CRADA, is the first of its type between a DOE national laboratory and another nation’s scientific research organization. The I-CRADA, an international cooperative research and development agreement, was jointly developed by DOE and Fermilab to support LBNF/DUNE and other basic science collaborations.

“Science has always brought nations closer together, and we want to open as many doors as wide as possible for a bright future,” Lockyer said. “The I-CRADA is a very practical agreement to help us do this.”

The agreement outlines plans for personnel exchanges — of students, scientific staff and technical staff — between Fermilab and the four CoEPP member institutions and opens the door for expanding the collaboration in the future Initially, the program will involve cooperation in theoretical particle physics, accelerator physics, computing, and a number of experimental physics areas, including neutrino physics and underground-experiment developments. Based on these first exchanges, the participants may develop and add other programs to the I-CRADA.

“Strengthening the collaboration with CoEPP brings even more theorists and experimentalists together and lets them be part of a wider spectrum of forefront experiments,” Carena said. “We create a two-way bridge to share knowledge and improve technologies to learn more about our universe.”

The bridge will allow scientists from both countries to share techniques and technology that could open new possibilities in fundamental science. The researchers would exchange expertise in analysis software development, particle detector design and advanced accelerator technology.

Minister Hunt caught a glimpse of the vast possibilities in particle physics research for Australian scientists coming to Fermilab when he visited two major Fermilab facilities. One stop was the MINOS Underground Area, home to the NOvA near detector, MINERvA and the MINOS near detector. He also toured the Cryomodule Test Facility and learned about how Fermilab is advancing the current state of the art in superconducting accelerator technology.

The final stop of the day, fittingly, was the signing ceremony — and the beginning of many new possibilities for scientific collaboration.