Mike Lindgren, head of the Particle Physics Division, wrote this column.
This will be my final column in Fermilab Today for the Particle Physics Division. On Oct. 1, Patty McBride will become the next PPD head, and Gina Rameika will lead the new Neutrino Division. I will move to serving full-time as chief project officer for the laboratory. The past couple of months have been quite busy with preparations for the new organization, which will improve the already excellent alignment of the lab with the direction laid out by P5.
I’m fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve as a division head for the past five and a half years. Working for Associate Laboratory Director Greg Bock was a tremendous pleasure, full of late-night and early-morning planning sessions on how to keep the Tevatron experiments going strong while ramping up for CMS, finishing MINERvA and DECam while getting NOvA back online after the budget was zeroed out in 2008, and then taking our liquid-argon R&D to the next level with LBNE and MicroBooNE. We were fortunate to be working with groups of immensely talented people, both Fermilab employees and university colleagues, who contribute so much to the high-energy physics program by coming here and choosing Fermilab for their research home — in spite of never having enough office space for everyone.
I would like to thank everyone in the PPD who made the job so fun and rewarding. The people in the division and department offices are unsung heroes who work very hard to make sure that we spend wisely, don’t break the myriad rules under which a national lab functions, and generally make meetings, conferences and travel go smoothly. In the research departments, our postdocs and scientists amazed me daily with their dedication to the science we do at the colliders, at the neutrino experiments, and in searching for dark energy and dark matter. The tremendous effort made by PPD scientists and hundreds of others to search for the Higgs at CDF, DZero and CMS, culminating in its discovery at the LHC, was in my view an inspiration to the entire world, in addition to being a fantastic advance for science.
None of that science is possible without the engineering and technical expertise of the dedicated and creative people in the Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Detector Development and Operations departments. There were a lot of highlights, too many to cover, but watching NOvA’s block pivoter driving 200-ton blocks down the experiment’s far-detector hall in Minnesota and setting them in place was a real high point, as was seeing the first images from DECam, which produced beautiful images as soon as it was cooled down and turned on. That level of performance does not happen without outstanding engineering and construction — which I came to appreciate as the norm from our people.
The construction barriers around the west remote operations center came down this week, and our neutrino and muon experiments now have a state-of-the-art control room from which to operate for the next decade or more. But it is fair to say that the division, the lab and the field have pivoted from a decade focused on operations to a decade that adds the challenge of major project planning, design and construction. Everyone in PPD has been a part of that pivot, and many have been leaders in defining and initiating it. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to both lead and serve the people in the Particle Physics Division.