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SLUO Annual Meeting Highlights SLAC Value

SLUO annual meeting attendees listen to Mike Holland speak on Thursday. (Photo by Calla Cofield. Click for larger image.)

The SLAC Users Organization held their biggest meeting of the year in Kavli Auditorium last Thursday. The SLUO Users Meeting filled every seat with users from around the world. SLAC Director Persis Drell's morning speech set the tone for the day's events. "This is the most exciting time for particle physics in my career," she said. "Particle physics will thrive in the next decade. The question is, how will the U.S. continue to play a leadership role?" She said she hoped the roundtable discussions scheduled for later in the day would begin to address this question and the prime focus of the meeting: how national laboratories including SLAC can better support users working in the U.S. and internationally.

Policymakers are also examining this question, as noted by the three speakers who followed Drell: Mike Holland, program examiner of the Office of Management and Budget Energy Branch; Joseph Dehmer, director of the National Science Foundation Division of Physics and Dennis Kovar, associate director of the Department of Energy's Office of High Energy Physics. In a video speech, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo expressed the importance of laboratories such as SLAC in America's economic competitiveness.

"These speakers were invited to inform users of the priorities of Washington agencies, and their plans for high energy physics," said SLUO Chairperson Gerard Bonneaud. "This kind of meeting will have an impact on agency budgets and priorities that include high energy physics."

The afternoon featured two panel discussions with a series of short talks from SLUO scientists in two categories: The Discovery Frontiers (accelerator-based science) and The Cosmic Frontier. The talks focused on opportunities for users at SLAC facilities, and updates on current facilities projects. Subsequent question and answer periods yielded inquiries about how SLAC will accomodate many of its users working at CERN.

"SLAC has a major role to play as a national and international physics lab. We have a vibrant community of users, and first-class science facilities," said Bonneaud, explaining the main message he would like users to take away from the meeting. "SLAC will play a leading role in the scene of high energy physics."

—Calla Cofield
SLAC Today, September 22, 2008