A time of change

Jack Anderson

Editor’s note: Fermilab Interim Director Jack Anderson will author Director’s Corners until Sept. 3.

Last week I found myself in the unique position of being afforded the distinction of serving as interim laboratory director between Pier Oddone’s retirement and the beginning of Nigel Lockyer’s tenure on Sept. 3. Coupled with Young-Kee Kim’s return to her full-time position in the Physics Department at the University of Chicago, I had the sudden feeling of being on a sailboat when the wind just … stops. It can be an eerie feeling, but sail we must, and the wind will gradually return.

As we look to the immediate future, it is important for us as individuals—and as a laboratory—to maintain a clear focus on the business of Fermilab. Until Nigel begins in September, I will maintain our forward momentum on the plan and activities that Pier and Young-Kee set in place. I plan no structural changes during this transition period. However, it is obvious that the level of engagement by the Directorate in various activities throughout the lab will be different over the next couple of months. I have been working with the associate laboratory directors and several section heads to "lend a hand" to the Directorate in order to continue to maintain support for important activities. So, in a phrase, we’ll be working as a team.

We have many important and exciting activities taking place over the next two months. It’s important to stay focused and stay safe. Human performance training teaches us that changes can create opportunities for errors, so it is important for all of us to practice "productive inquiry." Ask questions when you don’t understand a situation, when something doesn’t feel right or if unexpected conditions are encountered. Clarify roles, responsibilities, goals and objectives to reduce the likelihood of unwanted outcomes.

The summer ahead will be a busy one. The Muon g-2 ring arrival is anticipated at the end of July or early August, and employees, their families and the public will be invited to watch the ring move across our site. The construction of its new home, the MC-1 building, is well under way. The extended accelerator shutdown that began on April 30, 2012, and has been marked by many accomplishments is coming to an end next week. This is a significant milestone for all of Fermilab. While the shutdown was an Accelerator Division project, people and groups from all over the lab provided support to get things done. The startup will be paced and methodical, using low-intensity beams. We will be holding a labwide celebration later this year to commemorate the accelerator complex restart and the official start of the Intensity Frontier run.

As we prepare for the transition to a new director, I will continue to stay in frequent contact with Nigel as he prepares to take the helm in two months. He is absorbing a lot of information very quickly regarding a number of activities of importance to the lab, including active participation in the Snowmass process, engaging in HEPAP activities, meeting with key stakeholders and coming up to speed on our organization, systems and processes.