Planning the future

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

The first public meeting of the newest incarnation of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel — known informally as P5 — will take place this weekend at Fermilab. Our lab is honored to be the first to host the panel, which has been charged by DOE and NSF with developing an updated strategic plan for U.S. high-energy physics under various budget scenarios. The P5 process is critically important for Fermilab as it will guide the focus of HEP project funding for the next decade. This weekend’s meeting will focus on neutrino physics, Snowmass and the international context. The panel will hear from particle physics leaders in Europe (CERN, Italy and the UK), Asia (China and Japan) and Brazil.

In preparation for the visit of the P5 panel to Batavia, our lab’s scientific staff have been engaged in an intensive planning process of their own. A working group was charged with developing a set of recommendations on Fermilab’s role in an optimized particle physics program over the next 10 years. The group has met several times over the last month with the broader scientific staff to discuss options and potential plans. The group is delivering recommendations to me this week that I will use in my discussion with the P5 panel.

In tandem with the working group’s activities, I have been engaged with the LBNE project team in intensive work to plan the strategy for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment. This was the focus of a series of meetings last week with DOE officials and is also the reason for my first visit to South Dakota this week. Yesterday I arrived at the Sanford Lab and received a brief overview of the site (including the mandatory and thorough safety training). Today I will go underground and engage South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in a discussion of particle accelerators and neutrino physics. The current LBNE plans and strategy will also be discussed Sunday morning at the P5 meeting.

I encourage all Fermilab employees and users with an interest in the planning process to attend the open sessions of this weekend’s meeting in Ramsey Auditorium. On Saturday the panel will hear from the convenors of the Snowmass working groups and from the directors of CERN, KEK and IHEP Beijing. Sunday is dedicated to neutrino physics, with presentations from the various experimental groups. The open sessions end with a town hall meeting on Sunday at 4 p.m.