As you know, Fermilab is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory managed under contract by Fermi Research Alliance LLC. FRA combines the strengths of the University of Chicago and the Universities Research Association to provide oversight, guidance and support for Fermilab. The FRA Board of Directors has undergone a recent evolution, and I had the pleasure of participating in their recent meeting in April.
Yes, the board still hires and fires the Fermilab director, but the expertise and experience they bring to the table has dramatically expanded. With the advent of the P5 report and its focus on the LBNF/DUNE future flagship for the U.S. particle physics program, Fermilab needs a board that oversees our implementation plan and helps guide us to success.
FRA has recruited an impressive starting team as we embark on this bold program. In addition to the members from the University of Chicago (Bob Zimmer and Don Levy) and URA (Lou Anna Simon, Marta Cehelsky), the FRA Board now includes Steve Ritz (UC Santa Cruz), John Womersley (Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK), Quinn Stepan (Stepan Company) and our newest member Bret Hart (United Airlines). A few more members are expected to be added over the coming year.
The reformulated group met in person in Washington, D.C., last month not only to conduct its business, but also to get acquainted with the national landscape and federal Fermilab stakeholders in Congress, the Department of Energy and other executive branch agencies. The new board members were highly engaged and had many questions for me about how Fermilab makes decisions, evaluates opportunities and manages risks. Regarding the agencies and Congress, the board was interested in strategic priorities and international considerations while also expressing their enthusiasm for Fermilab and the direction in which we’re heading. Board members learned a great deal from Pat Dehmer and Jim Siegrist (DOE Office of Science) about the significance of the opportunity for Fermilab to host a global “megaproject” for neutrino science on U.S. soil. The agencies emphasized the need for clear, consistent messaging about the value of particle physics and these types of flagship initiatives.
I want to reiterate my welcome to our newest board member, Brett Hart, and thank those who have been with us for the past few months. And I sincerely thank our colleagues at the Department of Energy (Jim Siegrist, Pat Dehmer, Lynn Orr) and the National Science Foundation (Fleming Crim) for taking time to meet with the board and share their wisdom about how to make the case for science in the modern world.
The FRA Board’s fresh perspective is seasoned by substantial experience and a commitment to helping us succeed. I look forward to working closely with them as we secure the next several decades of Fermilab’s future.