June 22, 2011

Each year in mid-summer an event appears on our calendars; the annual meeting of our users’ group. The importance of this event cannot be overstated. We claim to the Office of Science that one of our core competencies is the ability to design, construct and operate large user facilities. And indeed we have a nuclear physics user community of 1,300 physicists from all over the world.

The Users Group Board of Directors (UGBOD) organizes the meeting. It is customary for representatives of the DOE and NSF offices responsible for nuclear physics to be invited; Tim Hallman, DOE Office of Science Associate Director for Nuclear Physics, and Brad Keister, NSF Program Director for Nuclear Physics, gave presentations in the open sessions, but importantly, Hallman and Keister were on hand for the users, the young and not-so-young principal investigators concerned for the support of their particular experiments, and to discuss their prospects. Under Secretary Koonin was also a keynote speaker. Although he is a nuclear theorist by trade, his preoccupation is now much broader and it was interesting to hear him talk about the "energy situation."

The line-up of distinguished speakers also included Al Mueller of Columbia University, Michael Romalis from Princeton University, Michael Ramsey-Musolf of University of Wisconsin and Emlyn Hughes of Columbia University. The subjects they covered ranged from hadronic physics through precision atomic physics, electroweak and the new results from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The range exemplifies the breadth of interest of our physics community. The laboratory has been attempting to incubate a photon science program based on the Free-Electron Laser the program, which grew out of the technology used for CEBAF. Nora Berra from Western Michigan University, who leads some of the frontier research at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC, gave an outstanding exposition on the excitement in the field generated by the new capability provided by the LCLS. In fact, the event demonstrated how small is the world of physics; Nora and the UGBOD Chair, Zein-Eddine Meziani were members of the same undergraduate class in Algiers.

The core of the meeting is the physics. It is an opportunity for users and often the young ones to describe the advances along the many different thrusts of our experimental program. Taking overall nearly three days, the meeting permits pretty much all aspects to be aired. These include the measurements that have come to fruition, as well as those for which the fruit have only just been picked from the tree. Around a dozen talks covered this segment of the program and were supplemented by a discussion of results from the Compass program and from the Mainz experiments on the proton charge radius.

The energy of our user community leads to recognition from peers. Three members of the Jefferson Lab community, Ian Balitsky (Jefferson Lab/Old Dominion University), Latifa Elouadrhiri (Jefferson Lab) and Misak Sargsian (Florida International University) became fellows of the American Physical Society, and the latter two gave talks at this meeting. Pavel Evtushenko (Jefferson Lab) and Jo Dudek (Jefferson Lab/ Old Dominion University) received DOE Early Career Awards and Jo presented some exciting calculations of the hybrid meson spectrum made using lattice QCD techniques. Awards in which the user community plays a special role are the Thesis Prize won by Xin Qian of Caltech and the Postdoctoral Prize won by Mark Dalton of University of Virginia. The descriptions of their work demonstrated clearly how appropriate were the awards. Finally, this year saw the inauguration of the biennial JSA Outstanding Nuclear Physicist award; this year it went to Bill Bertozzi of MIT who gave an entertaining presentation. All three of these awards are supported by the Jefferson Science Associates Initiatives Fund.

This was a special year for nuclear physics at Jefferson Lab since the users group took the opportunity to host a symposium in celebration of the contributions of Larry Cardman. Larry had been Associate Laboratory Director since the mid-nineties and has strongly shaped the experimental program. Kees de Jager, Zein-Eddine Meziani and David Richards put together an extremely well thought out science program with distinguished speakers; Charlie Sinclair (ex-Jefferson Lab), Roy Holt (ANL), Mike Pennington (Jefferson Lab), Don Geesaman (ANL), Jacques Martino (IN2P3) and Costas Papanicolas (Cyprus Institute). A series of speakers at an informal reception then spoke of the weight of Larry’s contributions to the lab and to the field, and he also received recognition from the Department of Energy.

A program such as outlined above cannot be but enjoyable and interesting, at least when it is as well done as in this case. Both Bob McKeown and I spoke about the laboratory and its achievements and aspirations, and solicited user input on developing a strategic plan for the next decade and more. It is important that all our stakeholders get to play in this arena. It is in responding to these needs that the UGBOD comes into its own. We have seen the influence of the series of physics workshops in the putative electron ion collider. We also know about the discussions that take place on behalf of users to try to improve their working conditions and to improve the provisions made by the laboratory. On the Thursday of a users’ week already charged with presentations and discussions, the UGBOD met at 8:30 a.m. for a full day of discussions with laboratory management. In response to this devotion to the laboratory, I would like to thank the outgoing members and their Chair, Zein-Eddine Meziani, for all they have done. In turn, I wish Sebastian Kuhn and his team all good luck for the upcoming year.