Universities Research Association accepts its first member of 2013

The University of Manchester particle physics group gathers for a holiday party in December. Last month, the University of Manchester joined the Universities Research Association. Photo courtesy of Stefan Söldner-Rembold

With more than 80 faculty and students, the particle physics group of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester is one of the largest physics groups in the UK. Many of its physicists work on projects here at Fermilab, including DZero and the MINOS experiment. Therefore, many were right jolly when the University of Manchester joined the Universities Research Association in January.

“The University of Manchester has done important work at Fermilab, and I’m very pleased that it’s now a member of the URA,” said Fermilab Deputy Director Young-Kee Kim. “Particle physics research is a global endeavor, and the addition to the URA of an institution outside the United States reflects the internationality of Fermilab’s partnerships.”

The URA consortium consists of 86 research-oriented universities and enables its members to participate in the construction and operation of large research facilities such as Fermilab. The vast majority of URA members are in the United States. The University of Manchester makes the association’s fifth international member and first member from the UK.

As with any selective organization, the URA accepts applicants who meet established criteria. The university must show a commitment to fields the URA is interested in, including particle physics, high-energy physics and astrophysics. The university must have at least 15 physics faculty members and at least 15 graduate students at the thesis stage.

“The University of Manchester is highly qualified,” said URA Executive Director Marta Cehelsky. “Their School of Physics and Astronomy has a tremendous reputation, and we’re proud to have the university as one of our members.” The University of Manchester’s distinguished faculty has included several Nobel laureates, including 2010 physics Nobel prize winners Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov.

Representatives of URA’s member universities sit on the Board of Directors of the Fermi Research Alliance LLC, through which URA, with the University of Chicago, operates the laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, the faculty and students of member universities are eligible to compete for awards from URA’s Visiting Scholars at Fermilab program. Manchester students will also be eligible for the URA doctoral thesis award, and its postdoctoral students for URA’s Tollestrup award.

The University of Manchester will profit from other advantages of membership as well.

“There are many good things that may come from being a member of such a prestigious group of universities, which is why we were eager to join,” said Rod Coombs, deputy president of the University of Manchester.

One major benefit is collaboration. The University of Manchester plans to extend connections and research capabilities with Fermilab and other URA members across the United States. Stefan Söldner-Rembold, head of particle physics at Manchester, points out that the university has participated in many Fermilab experiments over the years, including DZero and MINOS. He hopes this new association will help fuel the university’s involvement with ongoing and future Fermilab experiments.

Jessica Orwig