December 16, 2005  


Director's Corner

By Jonathan Dorfan

As the year comes to a close, and we look forward to taking full advantage of the annual Laboratory closure, please accept my and my family’s warm seasonal greetings. However you celebrate the year’s end, may it be joyful and may it herald a healthy, happy and successful 2006 for you and your loved ones.

Jonathan Dorfan, Director
(Photo by Diana Rogers)

As you know well, SLAC is an important and highly valued part of Stanford University. We all work for a great University, one of the leading research and educational institutions in the world. The SLAC Director is appointed by the University President, and reports to both the President (for all management and fiduciary matters) and to the Provost (for academic matters). The University maintains oversight of SLAC in many ways, but possibly the most important mechanism is that of the SLAC Policy Committee (SPC), or what until recently was called the Science Policy Committee. At the urging of the President Hennessy’s Blue Ribbon Panel on SLAC, commissioned in the wake of the October 2004 accident, and consistent with the reality that the SPC has for a rather long time covered not just science policy but all aspects of management, the name has been changed. This will not in any way reduce the scientific content of the SPC meetings, but will formally acknowledge the critical importance of ensuring sound management of the science. The SPC meets for two days typically in the first week of May and December and has fourteen members. The Committee is currently chaired by Professor Jim Siegrist of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. and University of California at Berkeley. Jim did his thesis on the Mark I detector as a SLAC graduate student.

We recently concluded the December 2005 SPC meeting. I reviewed for the SPC what a very challenging past 13 months it has been for every one of us. We were faced with the recovery from a major accident in October 2004 which necessitated a long period of operational downtime. All facilities had to prepare for and pass a safety validation review. Our 2005 budget did not meet expectations and we had to endure the agony of laying off valued co-workers. We have had many reviews whose outcome was critical to our future success. We had a once in 46-year freak power outage that left us without power for three days. We have gone through the first major reorganization of the Laboratory since its inception. When the SPC were here in May 2005, we were just beginning to “get back on our feet”. Six months later it’s a very different story. Tough though it has been, I was able to say with much conviction and pride that we had come through this difficult period, and SLAC, as always, is conducting a broad and highly successful research program. I concluded my talk by pointing out that this was only made possible due to the extraordinary quality, dedication and determination of SLAC’s staff.

Change and adversity are always difficult; but look where we stand now. We received full funding for the LCLS project for 2006 and construction has already started. The B Factory reached record performance, breaking the magic 10**34 cm-1 sec-1 luminosity barrier, more than three times its design. SSRL has been performing superbly. GLAST has completed the assembly of the Large Area Telescope. The linear collider group has repositioned itself outstandingly after the linac technology decision and is leading the world through the Global Design Effort process. The Kavli Institute is growing in leaps and bounds and the building is nearly finished. We have established the Ultrafast Science Center and have hired a world- leading scientist as its first Director. The FFTB and the NLCTA facilities are in full operations. This Laboratory is back to full and safe performance.

For two days we presented SLAC activities to the SPC and I was delighted by the closing statement of the Committee Chair, Jim Siegrist: “SLAC has faced many and varied challenges in 2005 and the SPC would like to congratulate the SLAC staff on their resilience, and their commitment to the goals of the laboratory.”

All families go through tough times and strong families come through them. The SLAC family has demonstrated its strength in 2005. 2006 will be a great year!

The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Tuesday December 13, 2005 by TIP