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From the Director: The Return (Again) of the Scientific Policy Committee

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

The Scientific Policy Committee met last week as part of a week-long series of meetings to provide input to our Board of Overseers—the BoO. Recall that Stanford University is responsible for overseeing SLAC science and operations and Stanford uses the BoO to assure that our performance is up to the university's high standards.

The SPC helps develop, refine and assess the scientific strategies of the laboratory. Their recent meetings have been full of excitement as they have watched the successful launch and excellent science productivity of the Fermi telescope and first lasing, initial operations and first science from the Linac Coherent Light Source. As I approach each meeting I wonder: what can we do that will top the excitement of the meeting before?

Well, this meeting did not disappoint. The presentations were outstanding and there was a lot of new progress to highlight. Certainly LCLS and Fermi continue to dazzle. In addition, Chi-Chang Kao laid out his vision for the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource’s future, and leaders of the Particle Physics and Astrophysics Directorate gave an update on the PPA strategy and the impact of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope moving forward—a result of its very high ranking in the 2010 Decadal Survey of Astrophysics and Astronomy. The SPC focused the most, however, on the tremendous hiring we have done. Since the committee was last at SLAC, lab management has recruited Jens Nørskov, Harold Hwang, Norbert Holtkamp and Chi-Chang Kao to leadership positions at the lab. The committee members said they were really impressed by the quality of the talent we have recruited and how quickly these new leaders are engaging in and helping to define the laboratory’s programs.

This was the final meeting for several members of the SPC: Denis Raoux, Hitoshi Murayama and Satoshi Ozaki. They all expressed their excitement at the new directions SLAC is taking and we thanked them for all the wise advice they have provided. The SPC has given us critical input, helping us to refine the vision and strategy of the laboratory. At every meeting they raise the bar a bit higher and challenge us to do even better. I am deeply grateful for how much they have contributed to the laboratory.

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, November 12, 2010