Browse the Director's Columns:

2011 Archives | 2010 Archives | 2009 Archives | 2008 Archives | 2007 Archives | 2006 Archives



December 18, 2009
     From the Director: Happy Holidays!
This is the season for celebration, reflection and appreciation for what we have accomplished in this past year at SLAC.  

December 17, 2009
     From the Director: FY09 DOE Report Card
This week the Department of Energy Office of Science released annual performance assessments for the national labs, including SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, for the fiscal year 2009 (October 2008 through September 2009).  

December 11, 2009
     Accelerator Directorate Update
Back in August and early September, SLAC rolled out the new Accelerator Directorate and celebrated the creation of our signature in accelerator science and technology capabilities. Based on our performance to date, I'm very pleased with where we are. So, the obvious question is where are we going, and what do we need to prepare for?

December 2, 2009
     From the Director: Two Additional Paid Days During Winter Closure
As an acknowledgment of the extraordinary successes in building LCLS and bringing it online for the first user experiments, SLAC management is awarding employees two additional paid days off during the winter closure.


November 20, 2009
     From the SLAC CRO
So just what is a "CRO"? In the corporate world, CRO can have many meanings—Chief Risk Officer, Chief Restructuring Officer, Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Research Officer among them. It is this latter definition that fortunately for me defines the role of a CRO at SLAC and typically at the other Department of Energy national laboratories.

November 13, 2009
     From the Director and COO: Input from SLAC's Board of Overseers
In 2008, we as a laboratory embarked on a major improvement program. We all saw that 2009 was a year when we, as a lab, needed to make a lot of forward progress.

November 6, 2009
     From the Persis, Paul and Bill: We Need Your Help!
The incident investigation into the September 24, 2009 laser-related eye injury in a PULSE laboratory has been completed and the final report is done.


October 30, 2009
     From the Director: Safety and Security Briefing
I would like to start by congratulating you—the laboratory staff. Together we have made major strides forward in both safety and security.

October 23, 2009
     From the Director of SSRL: The Next User Run
The past few months have been an extremely busy time at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource.

October 16, 2009
     From the Director: Workgroup Meetings Redux
This week lab staff braved wind and driving rain to come to work group meetings in Kavli auditorium.

October 9, 2009
     From the Director of LCLS: Ramping Up User Science
Last week, on October 1, SLAC Today reported the beginning of the first user run at the Linac Coherent Light Source, and on October 6, a sparkling cider toast on the roof of the Near Experimental Hall, initiated by happy users, commemorated its successful completion. By now, a second group of users has already started their LCLS experiments. Yet LCLS development is ongoing.

October 2, 2009
     From the Director: Eye Injury at SLAC
Last Thursday, a serious incident occurred in one of SLAC's research laboratories at the PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science.


September 25, 2009
     From the Director of PPA: Following the Science and Expanding the Toolkit
Last Thursday's annual meeting of the SLAC Users Organization was another reminder of both the fundamental nature of the questions confronting particle physics, particle astrophysics and cosmology today and the breadth of the toolkit being arrayed to address these questions. It was also a reminder of the importance of maintaining the partnership between Particle Physics and Astrophysics at SLAC and the university community, as together we expand physics horizons and the experimental toolkit.

September 18, 2009
     From the Director: Now the Fun Begins!
The Linac Coherent Light Source achieved another major milestone last weekend as the first experiment, the Atomic, Molecular and Optical instrument, took its first test data.

September 11, 2009
     From the Chief Operations Officer
The senior members of the Operations Directorate recently spent two full days together assessing how well we are serving the SLAC science mission and how we might do that better. We like to be our own harshest critics, and we are fully committed to improving the infrastructure and services that we provide.

September 4, 2009
     From Persis, Paul and Bill: Two Years!
It has been two years since Paul Golan became head of the SLAC Site Office and two years since Persis Drell stepped in as acting director. Bill Madia joined officially as Stanford vice president for SLAC in January, 2008, but two years ago he was already heavily involved in advising lab management through the Scientific Policy Committee. The three of us thought this was a good occasion to pause and reflect.


August 28, 2009
     From the Acting Director of the Accelerator Directorate: Form Follows Function; Staffing Follows Form
SLAC's new Accelerator Directorate has been created to continue and build on the lab's strong history of excellence in accelerator operations and research. The new directorate is organized to focus and optimize the lab's accelerator core competencies, while forming a closer tie between accelerator research and operations

August 21, 2009
     From the Director: Taking a Break and Coming Back
As many do in the summer months, I took a family vacation for the past two weeks. Thanks to Jo Stohr and David MacFarlane for serving as acting directors while I was away. It was great to be away, and it's even better to be back!

August 14, 2009
     From the Director of LCLS: From Dream to Reality
In 1999, a year before I joined SLAC, Keith Hodgson asked me to chair a committee with the charge to develop and document the scientific case for a new revolutionary light source at SLAC, proposed in 1992 by Claudio Pellegrini of UCLA. It had been named the Linac Coherent Light Source, or LCLS, in the Design Study Report published in 1998.

August 7, 2009
     From the Acting Director of SSRL
With the growth of photon science at SLAC, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource's research portfolio and how is has been changing over the past several years.

August 3, 2009
     From the Chief Operating Officer
You have hopefully noticed our efforts to continuously improve Operations Directorate services in support of the SLAC mission. In that spirit, two changes are effective as of August 1.


July 31, 2009
     From the Director: Please No Tailgating!
We are all relieved that a suspect has been identified and charged in the SSRL vandalism incident. This has been an unusual and unfortunate incident in the lab’s history, but one we should take a moment to learn from.

July 29, 2009
     From the Director: The Accelerator Directorate Stands Up
SLAC is one of three National Accelerator Laboratories in the U.S. As such, we have a special responsibility to wisely manage and steward our accelerator resources for the benefit not just of SLAC, but for the national program.

July 24, 2009
     From the Director: Work Planning Moves Forward
Last week, we invited in a team from Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, led by Kyle Turner of McCallum-Turner, Inc., to perform an assessment of our ongoing Work Planning and Control program implementation.

July 17, 2009
     From the SLAC Site Office Manager: Conservation of Energy
As a Laboratory, we need to understand and minimize the amount of time and energy each transaction consumes so that we can put as much time and energy as possible into our mission work.

July 10, 2009
     From the Directors of Photon Science and SIMES: Planning a New Home at SLAC for SIMES
Plans are underway to create a home and central focus for SIMES at SLAC, with offices and labs in the Central Lab Building 40 complex.


June 26, 2009
     From the Director: Please Join Me in Welcoming Steve Chu
Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu visits SLAC today. In an all-hands presentation this morning, Steve will share his vision for our energy future.

June 19, 2009
     From the Director of SSRL: A Glimpse of SSRL's Future
In this, my last column as SSRL Director, I will give you my vision of SSRL's future. If we fast-forward a decade, you may be surprised to find SSRL in the limelight!

June 12, 2009
     From the Director: The LCLS Users are Coming!
It appears that before ever delivering an X-ray pulse to a user, the LCLS is oversubscribed by a factor of 2-3.

June 3, 2009
     From the Director: New ALDs in LCLS, SSRL and PPA and a new Directorate in the Making
The individuals who serve at the associate laboratory director level at SLAC are an extraordinarily dedicated group.


May 29, 2009
     From the Director of Operations: Partner of Choice
Partner of choice. Centrally managed, field-deployed. These terms describe the support services delivery model that SLAC will increasingly use to forward our scientific mission.

May 22, 2009
     From the Director: Planning It Right!
Good work planning and control is an essential process at SLAC that allows us to deliver the lab's mission with high quality and outstanding safety.

May 15, 2009
     From the Director: It Doesn't Get Better than This!
Dan Lehman and a team of over 20 people from across the Department of Energy complex just concluded (ahead of schedule…always a good sign!) a review of the Linac Coherent Light Source project. With the LCLS more than 90 percent complete and lasing demonstrated at 1.5 Angstroms, the review closeout was full of praise for the project and for the lab. Dan Lehman's words to me were: "It doesn't get better than this!"

May 8, 2009
    From the Director of PPA: The Unity of Particle Physics and Astrophysics
I spent the early part of this week at the "April Meeting" of the American Physical Society (held in May this year and planned for February next year). The April Meeting is a good forum for presentation of PPA results, and SLAC was certainly well-represented at the conference.

May 1, 2009
    From the Director: Lab Plan Briefing in DC
This week SLAC management had the opportunity to present our vision for the laboratory and our plan to achieve it to the senior leadership of the Office of Science.


April 24, 2009
    From the Director of LCLS Construction: My Thanks to the LCLS Collaboration and SLAC
In my life before SLAC, I had the privilege to participate (in various capacities) in the design, construction and commissioning of two linacs, two synchrotrons, four storage rings and three FELs (free-electron lasers). Now I have had the privilege to be in SLAC's Main Control Center on April 10, when the Linac Coherent Light Source became a 1.5 angstrom laser. I don't expect I will ever, as long as I live, see such a beautiful, smooth turn-on of any light source.

April 17, 2009
    From the Director: Workgroup Meetings
For the past two weeks I have been meeting with work groups across the laboratory. This round has had a very different flavor from previous work group meetings. With the good budget news and the stimulus funds that are coming to SLAC, we are hiring rather than reducing staff at the laboratory

April 10, 2009
    From the Acting Director of ETS: A Collaboration of Engineering and Technical Teams
The Engineering and Technical Support Directorate has a logo. At first glance this may seem trivial, but the process of creating a logo provided an opportunity for the six unique departments that make up the directorate to consider how we are united around our common goal to support the laboratory.

April 3, 2009
    From the Director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource: Timeless SSRL
Here is the story of how through the years SSRL has kept its place in the elite club of facilities that can count themselves as "top notch" in terms of brilliant X-rays, number of users and scientific achievements.


March 27, 2009
    From the Director: What a Difference in a Year!
On January 7, 2008, I had to announce the largest layoff in the history of the lab. This week I had the joy of announcing that SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory will receive $68.3M in stimulus funding from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

March 20, 2009
    From the Director of Operations: an IT Migration Project
Imagine a SLAC with electronic timecards, or that one click at your desktop could display your annual budget and expenses to date. With one more click, you could see who has been charging your account. If you are doing work at both Stanford's main campus and SLAC, one common information environment would support all of your business needs. Well, enjoy that image, because plans are underway to make this your reality.

March 13, 2009
    From the Director: The Office of Science Has a Budget
And what a budget it is! After three years of disappointment, where promising numbers in the President's budget would give way in last minute negotiations to disappointing appropriations, the budgets for science this year have delivered on the hopes raised back a year ago when President Bush's fiscal year 2009 budget was first announced.

March 6, 2009
    From the Director: Good News and Bad News
While we do not yet know our fiscal year 2009 funding level, I remain quite optimistic about the eventual budget appropriations for this year. However, there was bad news this week as well. Due to the University’s need to take deeper budget cuts than originally planned, the president and provost have announced that there will be no general salary increases for either faculty or staff in FY10.

March 2, 2009
    From the LCLS Directorate: Commissioning Status
The Linac Coherent Light Source is presently in its third phase of electron beam commissioning.


February 20, 2009
    From the Director: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Last week Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of direct relevance to SLAC, the bill contains a $1.6 billion investment in the Department of Energy Office of Science.

February 13, 2009
    From the Directors of Photon Science and SIMES: An Energy Facet of the SLAC–Stanford Partnership
The challenges facing us in the energy arena are not simple and solutions will come only through sustained investment in basic research and development utilizing multidisciplinary strategies that can be translated into practical applications.

February 6, 2009
    From the Director: DOE Report Card Gives SLAC Two "Thumbs Up"
This week the Department of Energy Office of Science released annual performance assessments for the national labs, including SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, for the fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through September 2008). This year's results are something we can all be proud of: Overall performance in science and technology received a grade of A-, while management and operations scored a B+.


January 30, 2009
    From the Director of Particle Physics and Astrophysics: Mapping BaBar's Future
Last week, SLAC hosted a meeting of the International Finance Committee for BaBar... The meeting gave the IFC a chance to take stock of how far BaBar has come, and where the project is headed over the next few years.

January 23, 2009
    From the Director: Change Has Come
It is clear that the change our new president is signaling for the nation will very quickly permeate into the DOE. I cannot predict the impacts, but it feels different already.

January 16, 2009
    From the Director: Improving our Infrastructure—The SLI Project
The goal of the Department of Energy's Science Laboratories Infrastructure program is to maintain the general purpose infrastructure at the 10 Office of Science laboratories.

January 9, 2009
    From the Director: Execute the Plans in Place
In 2008, we as a laboratory embarked on a major improvement program. In many areas where we had not evolved to modern business practices and standards, we started planning improvements, and in many areas we started to execute those improvements. We have been commended for heading in the right direction. Our focus now has to be: Execute and deliver what we have planned!

Office of Science/U.S. DOE