Project X team takes shape

From left: Sergei Nagaitsev, project scientist for the accelerator facility; Bob Tschirhart, project scientist for the experimental program; Jim Kerby, project engineer. Photo: Cindy Arnold

The Project X leadership team is taking shape with the creation of three new positions to help guide the proposed accelerator facility to realization. Bob Tschirhart is the project scientist for the experimental program, Sergei Nagaitsev is the project scientist for the accelerator facility and Jim Kerby is the project engineer.

“These three are the key to moving Project X forward,” said Steve Holmes, project manager for Project X. “They will provide leadership to establish the design, and to ultimately coordinate the construction, for this forefront facility. They will do this within the context of a multi-institutional collaboration.”

Project X would provide high-intensity beams of protons to various experiments, of which there are currently more than 20 concepts. As project scientist for the experimental program, Tschirhart will work with the scientific community to shape the program for the optimal physics reach.

“The last 20 years in particle physics have been fantastic,” Tschirhart said. “Major discoveries have marked that past two decades of our field and we have very strong indications on where other new physics can exist. Project X will only take us further.”

Tschirhart has conducted research at the intensity frontier since 1990. A Fermilab employee since 1992, he was selected for the project scientist role after an international search. He’s now shaping the experimental program, based on which experiments enabled by Project X would benefit the field greatest. Holmes called Tschirhart the physics ambassador for Project X.

“My job is to work with Sergei and Jim to define the capabilities of the accelerator, and communicate that to the physics community,” Tschirhart said. “World-wide there is both a lot of collaboration and competition concerning the Project X research program.”

Nagaitsev organizes and manages the design and development of the accelerator facility. By looking at the capabilities of the proposed facility and the potential experiments, Nagaitsev works to determine realistic boundaries and possibilities. He called Project X an investment in Fermilab’s future.

“This is the right step forward not only for Fermilab, but for particle physics as a whole,” Nagaitsev said.

Kerby, the project engineer, looks forward to helping merge the scientific design of the accelerator with practical engineering consideration, and incorporating contributions from international collaborators.

“Fermilab’s accelerators always present cutting-edge challenges and Project X is no different,” Kerby said. “But the Fermilab engineering staff has an exceptional track record in rising to those challenges, and I look forward to realizing this machine.”

Fermilab Deputy Director Young-Kee Kim expressed her enthusiasm for the Project X plans.

“We have an incredible team with a deep understanding of where the field of particle physics is heading,” Kim said. “It’ll be fascinating to see where they take us.”

Tschirhart agreed.

“It’s a great time to be a particle physicist,” Tschirhart said. “There’s a lot to do.”

Ashley WennersHerron