Expanding Fermilab’s international outreach

Emanuela Barzi

When 20 years ago Simone Donati, at the time a postdoctoral student at the University of Pisa, and I, a Fermilab guest scientist, crossed as simple acquaintances in the corridors of the CDF trailers, little did we know that we would go on to become the tightest of collaborators.

It all started a few years later, when Professor Giorgio Bellettini, the founder of the CDF Italian Student Program, had to look each year for partners as passionate as he was in selecting and pairing summer students to the physics programs within CDF. After a few years of intensive service, Giorgio’s partners would leave, even as the program’s success was increasing.

Top-notch engineering candidates, in addition to physicists, started applying. By then active in the field of superconductivity, I entered Giorgio’s team to help expand the program into the technology realm at the lab. Then, in 2007, Simone Donati pitched in as a team member also, and there he was, again and again, one year after the next. A perfect synergy had formed within our three-person team, with each member delivering their part in an harmonious and complementary manner. This team has been now operating for a decade, providing the lab with hundreds of high-performing graduate students from most of Italian universities and also beyond. Some of these students went on to become leaders in their fields. With the lab’s support, our program has developed into The Fermilab Summer School of the University of Pisa and, more recently, the MoVing Knowledge Summer School at the University of Oxford, UK, has been added. The latter is in collaboration with Professors Ian Shipsey and Luigi Marchese from Oxford. The University of Pisa grants European supplementary university credits, while the University of Oxford provides a teaching team.

As all attainments built with perseverance and on solid ground, this happened not to be the end of the story. A couple of years ago, Simone, or more precisely, Professor Simone Donati at the University of Pisa, decided to venture into the complicated business of the Horizon 2020 funding program (whose longer name is the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Framework Program of the European Commission). By joining a team of researchers from the INFN at Frascati, including Simona Giovannella, Stefano Miscetti and Graziano Venanzoni (now in Pisa), a vision to contribute to the Fermilab Muon Campus was born, with work packages revolving around the design and construction of detector systems for Mu2e and Muon g-2. This team was able to gather interested research groups from universities in Italy, Germany, Greece and the UK for their first Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) proposal in 2015, titled MUSE, or “Muon campus in the U.S. and European contributions.” These research groups co-authored the proposal as potential beneficiaries. As a U.S. institution, Fermilab’s role in the proposal is instead that of a partner, whose benefits include acting as host of researchers and Ph.D. students from the European institutions funded by the grant.

This first proposal was granted in 2015 and will provide Fermilab with almost 400 months of total visitor time over a period of four years, effective FY16. Fermilab scientist Doug Glenziski is coordinating this activity in house.

The following year, Simone and I merged our respective professional networks for a new RISE proposal titled NEWS, or “NEw WindowS on the universe and technological advancements from trilateral EU-US-Japan collaboration.” This proposal, which was granted this year, includes beneficiaries from Italy, Germany, Greece, France and Sweden. The partners are Fermilab, SLAC, Caltech, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, U.S. companies and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Fermilab will see 100 months of visitor time over a period of four years starting in FY18.

This latest project centers on collaborating on additional technical aspects of Muon g-2 and Mu2e, as well as advanced superconducting technologies for particle accelerators and detectors. As a complementary approach to probe the universe, the project includes contributions to the LIGO and Virgo collaborations, the Large Area Telescope collaboration, which operates a gamma-ray telescope on board the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope mission, and X-ray polarization detectors.

Not only do these endeavors require cutting-edge technologies that will hopefully open new windows in physics and technology, but they also offer an ideal way for nations to collaborate on science.

Emanuela Barzi is the principal investigator of Fermilab Magnet Superconductor R&D and an adjunct professor at Ohio State University.