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From the Director: Happy Holidays!

(Image - holiday wreath)

This is the season for celebration, reflection and appreciation for what we have accomplished in this past year at SLAC. However, I'm having a hard time writing my end of the year column with any tone of calm or composure because life at SLAC is incredibly exciting right now and it is not going to slow down any time soon! Here are just a few vignettes from the kaleidoscope of my memories for the year:

  • LCLS Lases. Wow! What a turn on! It takes several weeks for me to believe that this is real.
  • Elliott Bloom shows the Scientific Policy Committee beautiful Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope dark matter search data.
  • Secretary of Energy Steve Chu holds 800 SLAC staff entranced as he talks about the energy challenges the nation faces in a talk on the green.
  • Gennady Stupakov proposes a new method to seed X-ray free electron lasers (Enhanced Echo Harmonic Generation) that is considered one of the cleverest ideas in FEL physics to come out in years.
  • Lance Dixon explains computational collider physics to Undersecretary Steve Koonin and to the SPC in a beautiful talk that even the non- particle physicists could understand.
  • Roger Blandford has a wonderful 60th birthday celebration which attracts a 'who's who' in the astrophysics world.
  • We effectively respond to the worst vandalism incident in the lab's history.
  • We complete FY09 with one of the lowest accident rates in the Department of Energy complex, demonstrating our commitment to each other as individuals and community; however concern over two incidents involving students not using PPE leads us to examine our safety culture in-depth with external help.
  • The Enriched Xenon Observatory experiment goes underground at the WIPP site in New Mexico.
  • SSRL ends its user run with 99 percent uptime of delivery for users.
  • BABAR is disassembled, but continues to produce outstanding science with the collaboration's 400th paper.
  • One Lab moves forward as we agree on a common financial approach for use throughout SLAC.
  • The new operations management team fills out and is emerging as the strongest management team in the DOE complex.
  • Linda Young, one of the early users, holds the SPC entranced with her talk on the early experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source.
  • Our combined efforts result in $90M in stimulus money awarded to SLAC.
  • ZX Shen wins the Lawrence Award.
  • Experimenters in the LCLS Near Experimental Hall eat holiday turkey brought by their colleagues from the SLAC holiday party while their experiment in the LCLS beam produces breathtaking data.

What a year! I cannot predict what 2010 will bring. I'm sure we will have our share of challenges. However, as we go forward, we will continue to build on our scientific and technical successes. We will build on our new organizational structures, on our professionalism and on our teamwork. As I, like you, take some time off to spend with family and friends, I will be storing up energy for the excitement to come in the New Year. Thank you for your tremendous efforts in 2009. 2010, here we come! Happy Holidays!!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, December 18, 2009