Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visits Fermilab, touts progress in advancing science

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory today, celebrating the lab’s 50 years of discovery and highlighting its bright future as the nation’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. Secretary Perry toured Fermilab’s extensive science and technology research complex and led a town hall meeting with lab employees and visiting scientists. Joining him on the tour was U.S. Congressman and former Fermilab physicist Bill Foster.

As the top official at the U.S. Department of Energy, the Secretary oversees Fermilab and the 16 other DOE National Laboratories that form the backbone of the nation’s scientific infrastructure. During his visit, Secretary Perry noted Fermilab’s unique role within the DOE lab system.

“DOE’s 17 laboratories are the crown jewels of American science,” Secretary Perry said. “As the nation’s leading particle physics lab, Fermilab plays a vital role in bringing the national and international high-energy physics community together in pursuit of great discoveries. The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, for instance, are a terrific example of continued U.S. leadership in this community.”

The visit highlighted Fermilab’s leadership as the host laboratory for LBNF/DUNE, the first international megascience experiment to be built at a U.S. DOE lab. While at Fermilab the Secretary visited several experiments focused on neutrinos — tiny particles that could hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why matter and the universe exist. Secretary Perry also spoke to lab scientists and engineers about the construction of LBNF/DUNE, which broke ground in July. This flagship project will send the world’s most intense beam of neutrinos from Fermilab in Illinois 800 miles through the earth to massive particle detectors, which will be built a mile underground in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota.

“More than 1,000 scientists from 31 countries have signed on to the LBNF/DUNE project thanks to its potential for groundbreaking scientific discoveries and the strong leadership shown by DOE,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. “We value the contributions from our international partners in the project and look forward to a new era of neutrino science.”

Among those international collaborations, Fermilab’s strong partnership with the European particle physics laboratory CERN on its Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab’s LBNF/DUNE project was discussed during the visit.

Fermilab’s expertise in engineering and technology development was also featured throughout the Secretary’s visit. A stop at the new Quantum Labs highlighted Fermilab’s successful R&D work towards advanced particle accelerator technologies and their potential applications to quantum sensors and quantum computers. Secretary Perry also visited the facility for PIP-II, an accelerator project that will provide the high-intensity, megawatt proton beam that is needed for generating the neutrino beam for LBNF/DUNE.

Secretary Perry also made a stop to inspect the laboratory’s famed herd of native American bison, a symbol of the laboratory’s commitment to stewardship of the environment and to building strong relationships with the surrounding communities. Fermilab’s STEM outreach programs also serve to build strong community partnerships and the next generation of science leaders.

The town hall meeting with lab employees and visiting scientists concluded the Secretary’s visit to Fermilab.

View a 3-minute video of Secretary Perry’s Jan. 9 visit to Fermilab. Watch Perry speak with Fermilab staff at the town-hall meeting.