Executing our international strategy

As Fermilab moves into a new era of playing host to the country’s first international mega-science facility, LBNF/DUNE, the ability to connect globally becomes essential. LBNF/DUNE has good traction, both nationally and internationally, which is why we are now strongly engaged in implementing an international strategy. Our goal is that every funding agency and key diplomat should know what we are doing when launching a new partnership.

We are in the process of promoting international relationships from every angle by establishing welcoming rules and regulations, upgrading and expanding housing facilities, installing more espresso machines, and just plain making visits to Fermilab easier for people from abroad so that they can work and focus on their science. Key partner countries, diplomats, consuls general, ambassadors, funding agencies and ministerial officials will need to be informed of Fermilab’s international project LBNF/DUNE. In order to do this efficiently, we developed an international strategy focused on communication and engagement.

We have further identified and prepared our international relations team for interactions with their international counterparts, we are communicating with the Office of High Energy Physics and the federal government on this plan, and we are gathering input for the talking points. Over the last five months we have begun vigorously executing this strategy, including a strenuous agenda of visits to universities, laboratories and centers of government on four continents.

In November 2015 I traveled to the “great white north” — to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, to attend and speak at the Canadian Science Policy Conference organized by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Day one started with Tim Horton’s doughnuts and an excellent panel on “big science” and its influence on the Canadian scientific landscape moderated by our own Tim Meyer, with speakers including the directors from SNOLAB, TRIUMF and the Canadian Light Source, as well as the chief scientific officer from Compute Canada. After the evening reception, we listened to 2015 physics Nobel laureate and Canadian Art McDonald on the science of SNO and SNOLAB. Early the next morning, after Tim Horton’s doughnuts, there was a discussion on big science policy in Canada stressing the importance of international scientific collaboration, with Catherine Ewart from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, previous CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer and me. For more on whether Rolf agrees that Canada should join CERN, please read the article published in the Ottawa Citizen.

At the start of 2016 several of us embarked on a journey to one of our most important partners for PIP-II, India. While there I was fortunate enough to meet with Energy Secretary and Chairman of the Department of Atomic Energy Sekhar Basu, previous director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Last month, the government of India appointed K.N. Vyas as the new director of BARC. We congratulate him and look forward to working with him to further advance our accelerator technology partnership. The main purpose of the trip was a joint review of our accelerator project. The result was a document of listed action items signed by Fermilab and P.D. Gupta, Director of RRCAT.

After the review we had the opportunity to discuss the PIP-II project with Arun Srivastava, secretary of the Atomic Energy Commission. Later on day two, we drove to the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in south Mumbai, where I met with the director and gave the first colloquium of the year titled “Neutrinos are Everywhere: Towards a New Understanding of the Quantum Universe.” Audience members in the packed house asked a number of thought-provoking questions, all related to neutrinos from supernovae collapse. I was truly amazed to see such interest. It turns out that the director of TIFR, Sandip Trivedi, is himself an example of Fermilab’s international reach, having spent time as a theorist at Fermilab years ago. Further, we have lots of colleagues from TIFR that visit Fermilab regularly to work on CMS analysis as a part of our LHC Physics Center.

Later that month Joe Lykken traveled to Manaus, Brazil, at the invitation of Alberto Santoro from Universidade do Estado Rio de Janeiro. Alberto was one of the first physicists from Brazil to come to Fermilab as a result of Leon Lederman’s initiative to bring Latin American researchers into high-energy physics experiments at Fermilab. While in Manaus, Joe attended meetings at the Universidade do Estado do Amazonas and met with various deans and professors, including the reitor (chancellor), vice reitor and the director of international relations. This followed with a lunch with Jose Melo de Oliveira, the governor of the state of Amazonas, and his executive secretary for international relations, during which they discussed support for making connections with strong U.S. institutions though high-energy physics. All of these interactions are important.

Most recently, Chief Accelerator Officer Sergei Nagaitsev and I attended the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) scientific council meeting in Dubna, Russia, where we were invited to speak on neutrinos. Another interesting fact: Victor Matveev, the director of JINR, was a theory postdoc at Fermilab serving as leader of the JINR Physicists Group in 1976. Besides presenting on neutrinos, I was interviewed for Moscow television (Sergei was my superb interpreter) during which I discussed the discovery of the top quark at Fermilab with our Russian collaborators. Sergei and I were able to stand inside the decommissioned Dubna weak focusing accelerator (which is just huge). It will now being used for shielding for the NICA heavy ion booster. We talked with Gil Pontecorvo, son of famous JINR physicist Bruno Pontecorvo, noted for being first to predict that neutrinos oscillate amongst themselves. JINR has a very ambitious program in neutrino physics, focused on detecting neutrinos in a nearby lake and also from a nuclear reactor, that competes with our short-baseline program. We visited Pontecorvo’s office, which is a historic site full of interesting scientific papers, and we found time to snap a photo next to the statute of Bruno Pontecorvo by the Volga River.

From Russia I flew to Japan for the Funding Agencies for Large Colliders meeting, chaired by STFC CEO and FRA Board Member John Womersley, and the International Committee for Future Accelerators – Linear Collider Overview meeting. While there I met with key lab directors, visited the BELLE-II detector and KEK-II control room, which was bustling with activity as scientists commissioned the new accelerator. I presented “Neutrinos at Fermilab – International from the Start” and attended a press conference on the future of high-energy physics and international cooperation with Joachim Mnich, DESY director in charge of particle physics and astroparticle physics, and ICFA chair; Fabiola Gianotti, CERN director general; Masanori Yamauchi, KEK director general; and emcee Saeko Okada of the KEK Public Relations Office.

More recently Tim Meyer and I visited the local consul general from the United Kingdom, Hema Ramamoorthi and I visited the consul general from India, and Rolf Heuer and I visited the consul general from Germany when Rolf was here for the FRA Board meeting. In all cases we briefed the consuls general on Fermilab and LBNF/DUNE. As a part of our expanding strategy, we will be enlisting others at the lab with international connections to help get the word out.

Now that we have completed the first few months of our international engagement strategy, we are looking forward to our international colleagues visiting us at Fermilab to learn more about our programs. Some of the visits currently planned include the minister of education from the Czech Republic, who previously visited the lab in November 2015, and a Latin American neutrino workshop in April.

Stay tuned. We have a lot more international activities planned in the coming months. If you are interested in helping and have an international background, please let us know. Our goal is to welcome the world to Fermilab.