The new Neutrino Division

Regina Rameika

Regina Rameika, head of the Neutrino Division, wrote this column.

Neutrino experiments have played a big part in Fermilab’s 47-year history, and we are now working to make them an even bigger part of Fermilab’s future. As we plan for the next 40 years, we strive to fulfill an important element of the laboratory’s vision: to lead the world in neutrino science with particle accelerators. To enable this vision, in July Director Lockyer announced the formation of a Neutrino Division at Fermilab.

The initial goal of this new organization is to provide a visible home with administrative and technical support for the laboratory’s current and planned neutrino experiments. In October, about 70 staff, guest scientists and international fellows became the first members of the new division.

The organization is starting out small, with two very well-defined tasks. The first is to focus on operating the experiments in the NuMI and Booster neutrino beams: MicroBooNE, MINERvA, MINOS+ and NOvA. The second, aligning ourselves with the P5 plan, is to develop in a coordinated way a world-leading program of short- and long-baseline neutrino experiments. The division will host the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) project team as well as the staff and user community who are joining this effort.

The Neutrino Division is beginning to grow a new group focused on optimizing beam designs and modeling for existing as well as future neutrino beams. It has a Technical Support Department, including a team of engineers specializing in cryogenic systems to operate and design liquid-argon neutrino detectors, which are the key elements in both the short-baseline and LBNF programs. We expect the engineering team to grow as the new projects mature and require more design effort. The Technical Support Department also includes the Operations Support Group, which supports the current and future experiments either directly or as experiment liaisons with the other divisions and sections of the laboratory.

As a new division, we are learning many of the complexities involved in running an organization, including managing personnel with the new FermiWorks system, planning budgets and finding office space for staff and users. We approach these challenges with an eye for improvement from the “way we’ve always done it” to better ways of doing things. Being a small division, we need to be nimble and versatile. Cross-training and succession planning will be key to our success.

It’s an exciting time for neutrino research at Fermilab. All of us at the Neutrino Division look forward to our role in building the laboratory’s future.

To learn more about the new Neutrino Division and watch us evolve, please visit our website.