Hot Summer

Hot Summer
July 27, 2010

One might think that we should be into the lazy, hazy days of summer. In contrast, since the beginning of June we have experienced a heat wave, and I am not referring to the “typical” Virginia summer with 100 degrees Fahrenheit registering on the thermometer.

  • On June 1, we made our strategic plan presentation to the Office of Science.
  • June 3, we made our mid-year performance presentation to the local Thomas Jefferson Site Office.
  • June 6-9, the users held their annual meeting, with a meeting of their Users Group Board of Directors included.
  • Concurrently on June 8, the 17 DOE laboratory directors met with Secretary Chu for a full day. The secretary did break off twice to meet with the team he has led addressing the issues of Deepwater Horizon and its spill. You may have read descriptions of the extent of his personal involvement in the press recently.
  • June 15 saw President Charles Steger and several senior academics of Virginia Tech here at Jefferson Lab for the first time; President Steger recently joined the JSA board of directors.
  • On June 22, our program examiner from the Office of Management and Budget paid us a visit at the lab; and
  • On June 23, I reversed fields by visiting the Office of Nuclear Physics and the Office of High Energy Physics at DOE HQ in Germantown.
  • On June 25, our JSA Science Council visited to hear about our progress on a number of fronts, from the 6 GeV program to the Electron Ion Collider.
  • Just before the July 4 weekend, I attended a two-day meeting of the Scientific Council of the IN2P3, the French physics funding agency in Paris.
  • On July 14, we received a visit from Dr. Pedro Montano and Dr. Eliane Lessner of the Office of Basic Energy Sciences. A year or more ago, they started to fund accelerator R&D work at Jefferson Lab for future light sources. They had never previously visited and were very impressed by the enthusiasm and expertise in our Free-Electron Laser division and in the Superconducting Radio Frequency Institute. We will expound elsewhere on what they had to say about JLAMP.
  • On Friday, I joined our 28 undergraduate interns for lunch, where we had a good exchange of ideas and energy.
  • Yesterday, we were in Germantown again, this time to discuss progress on a couple of recommendations from the 12 GeV Upgrade Review that took place a couple of months ago.
  • Today, July 27, is the first day of the DOE review of the Technology Engineering and Design Facility project. We are hoping that tomorrow there will be a recommendation to proceed with full construction, the so-called CD3-B decision.
  • But the month peaked really peaked a week ago, July 19-21, with a major review of the laboratory by the Office of Nuclear Physics. This year, as its name Facility Operations Review implied, the emphasis was on our operations. Similar reviews were held at three other DOE user facilities, including Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, but also facilities at Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This was a pretty rigorous examination of what we do, how we do it, and especially of the budgets for the current and future accelerator and experimental programs. Looking out to 2016, we are looking for an increase in budget as compared to the pre-12 GeV Project era in order to fully exploit the enhancements brought by that project; for example, a fourth experimental hall.

The team assembled by DOE was top of the line, and team members delved deeply. They listened carefully, but did not roll over. Based on the verbal indications from the closeout, we expect that their report will say that while some aspects of our needs are clear and justifiable, there are others where we will need to elaborate the situation and enumerate more clearly the cost benefit balance.

What was very important to us was the team’s statement that our operation is an important aspect of the U.S. nuclear physics program, and that they envisage a strong 12 GeV physics program.

Despite this welcome, cool breeze from the team, there is no denying that the operations review raised the temperature and, following on an already active, long month, turned 2010 into a Very Hot Summer.