John O'Fallon

John O'Fallon

Major change in leadership at the DOE's high-energy physics division...

John O'Fallon, who was director of the Division of High Energy Physics for 15 years, has moved to a new position in the US Department of Energy (DOE). On 24 March he became executive assistant for international and interagency planning in the office of the associate director for High Energy and Nuclear Physics (HENP). In his new position, O'Fallon's responsibilities will centre around two major activities in the DOE's high-energy physics programme. These include designing, planning and implementing policies regarding US involvement with the LHC at CERN, and establishing the framework necessary for other international projects the global high-energy physics community proposes to pursue. In addition, he will lead a DOE initiative designated as Streamlining Departmental Grants Processing, which is part of the DOE's E-Government Strategic Action Plan.

Particle physics in the US has seen several major achievements during O'Fallon's time as director of the Division of High Energy Physics. These include the discovery of the top quark and the first observation of the tau neutrino at Fermilab, the first observation of CP violation in the B-meson system and the precision measurement of sin2ß at SLAC, and convincing evidence for atmospheric neutrino oscillations at SuperKamiokande. After the demise of the SSC, O'Fallon played an instrumental role in setting the framework for US scientists to continue research at the high-energy frontier, by laying the groundwork with CERN and by orchestrating the shift to research at the LHC.

With O'Fallon's change of post, Robin Staffin is now serving as acting director of High Energy Physics, as well as continuing in his present capacity as deputy associate director for HENP. Staffin, who has been deputy associate director for two years, received his PhD in high-energy theory under Sidney Drell at SLAC. Prior to coming to HENP, he served as deputy assistant secretary for research and development in the DOE's Office of Defense Programs, and was later appointed senior policy advisor for science and technology and scientific advisor to the secretary of energy.

Bernhard Mecking

Bernhard Mecking, seen here with CLAS

...and at Jefferson Lab's Experimental Hall B

On 1 February 2003, Bernhard Mecking stepped down as leader of Hall B to return to full-time research at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News, Virginia. Mecking came to Jefferson Lab from the University of Bonn 18 years ago, before Hall B even existed. He had a vision for the CEBAF Large Acceptance Spectrometer (CLAS), a remarkable instrument that he led from its conception through the design and construction phases, and finally to commissioning and experiments. Mecking will now work on extracting physics from the terabytes of data that CLAS has accumulated. Fellow veteran Jefferson Lab physicist Volker Burkert succeeds him as the new Hall B leader.