Persis Drell's Remarks Upon Being Named Director of SLAC
"Thank you John, Burt and Jonathan for your kind words and for your support. I did not plan for this outcome when I agreed to chair the Director search committee. However life often takes us in unusual and unexpected directions. Here we are and I am committed to and very excited about moving forward.
"This is an extraordinary laboratory. We are justifiably proud of our history. We see outstanding opportunities for our future. Our mission is science, and our goal is to be the best in the world in the disciplines we explore.
"It has been the tradition of this laboratory to reinvent itself scientifically every decade and we are in the midst of that process yet again right now. Fields of science and the laboratory programs have advanced remarkably in 45 years, but as the laboratory program has evolved and broadened under the leadership of Pief, Burt and Jonathan, the principles of excellent science that this lab has always stood for have not changed.
"We look now to our future. The Linac was originally built to probe, to image, the fundamental structure of matter at the smallest scales. With our program now broadened to also include photon science and particle astrophysics and cosmology, we are developing tools to image the structure and dynamics of all matter from the very smallest to the very largest scales of the universe. The Linac is being retooled to be the injector for the world's first x-ray free electron laser: the Linac Coherent Light Source, which will image matter with atomic resolutions in space and time. New ground-based and space-based observatories are being planned and executed to image the universe on its largest distance scales. Accelerator science continues to develop the technologies for opening new frontiers in particle physics to study the universe at its smallest distance scales.
"With these tools we will attack frontier questions of science: What is the nature of the Universe and what is it made of? How do the properties of solid materials emerge from their atomic and electronic constituents? Can we control matter on the atomic scales of length and time in angstroms and femtoseconds? How do interfaces, where most of the important chemical reactions in nature and modern technology take place, actually work? What is the origin of mass in the universe? How can we transform human biology through an understanding of the structure, function and dynamics of complex biomolecular machines?
"We will attack our scientific future as One Lab. That is because the whole of our programs is much much more than just the sum of its parts. Strong intellectual threads tie the programs together. Transformational technologies such as accelerator science and scientific computing cross cut all of the disciplines. This is what will make the lab truly great.
"It is an honor to be asked to take on the leadership of the laboratory at this time. I also appreciate the challenges, as the laboratory is in the midst of a time of revolutionary transformation in all of its aspects. I am enthusiastic about the opportunities. I am confident in our ability to capture the opportunities to deliver exceptional science.
"The challenges we face might seem daunting if it were not for the strong support we have from so many quarters to be successful.
"Stanford University is committed to this laboratory and our future; a future which links us ever closer together to the main campus. The President and Provost are committed to support the laboratory as we explore new scientific frontiers as well as to support the laboratory to evolve as an institution managerially to where we need to be to be truly successful.
"The DOE [Department of Energy] is committed to our success and in Paul Golan I have a wonderful comrade in arms to make SLAC the best contractor-federal partnership in the complex.
"The Associate Laboratory Directors that I appointed when I was made Acting Director have supported me tremendously in the past three months. I am very very grateful to each of them. They are each demonstrating tremendous leadership and commitment to develop the One Lab vision that we all believe is our future.
"Finally the energy and dedication of the SLAC staff to this laboratory are inspiring. When I was trying to decide whether to move here 6 years ago, a wise friend told me: 'The strength of SLAC is the wonderful SLAC staff. They are used to living by their wits. The history of SLAC is a collection of miracles driven by the wits of the people who work there. Over and over they have reinvented their future.'
"We are in the midst of reinventing our future once again. Once again it will be SLACís culture of innovation and flexibility that will drive this laboratory forward. I look forward to our next generation of miracles! I am honored to be a part of that future and help shape it.
Persis Drell, remarks made at the December 6th, 2007, Director Announcement Ceremony, published in SLAC Today on December 7, 2007