Peter Shanahan is new NOvA co-spokesperson

Peter Shanahan

NOvA, Fermilab’s flagship neutrino experiment, now has a new face at the helm.

Fermilab scientist Peter Shanahan assumed the role of NOvA co-spokesperson on Feb. 19 for a two-year term. He joins fellow spokesperson Mark Messier of Indiana University in leading the experiment.

NOvA successfully completed construction of the experiment’s two detectors — one on the Fermilab site and a second detector 500 miles away in Ash River, Minnesota — in October 2014. The most powerful accelerator-based neutrino experiment ever built, NOvA is at a stage where scientists are now getting ready to analyze the data from the detectors.

More than 200 individuals from 39 institutions work on the experiment.

“I look forward to helping guide NOvA through this exciting and interesting time,” Shanahan said. “We want to build on the excellent momentum we’ve achieved so far.”

Shanahan joined NOvA in 2005. Over the last decade, he has worked on the detector design, data simulation and reconstruction software. He served as a NOvA project manager from 2009 to 2014, overseeing the production and commissioning of data acquisition software. He returned to offline work in 2012, coordinating activities on software used to reconstruct neutrino interactions from raw data from the detectors.

In September, the Department of Energy proclaimed that NOvA experiment construction, which started in 2009, was completed on schedule and under budget. Shanahan attributes NOvA’s success to the strong cooperation of its scientists, engineers and technicians.

“We’re here because of the work of so many people across the lab and from so many institutions around the world,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan succeeds Harvard University’s Gary Feldman, who served as co-spokesperson for 10 years and will continue as a NOvA collaborator.

“Our collaboration is grateful for the leadership and dedication Gary provided in his decade of service to NOvA,” he said.

“Peter has served NOvA tirelessly over many years in several different capacities, but most notably as the very successful leader of our data acquisition group,” Feldman said. “He has a deep understanding of the experiment and will work well with Mark in leading it into the analysis era.”

Leah Hesla