SLAC Today logo

From the Director: Developing our Energy Strategy

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

SLAC's scientific mission has three major elements:

  • Grow into the premier photon science laboratory, which includes both
    • Building and operating world-leading facilities and
    • Performing world-leading science at these facilities
  • Maintain our position as the premier electron accelerator laboratory, and
  • Build targeted programs in particle physics, particle astrophysics and cosmology.

I have identified our photon science research portfolio as a target for significant growth (~$100M) in this decade as a necessary component of becoming the premier photon science laboratory. 

In targeting growth in photon sciences (which can and will eventually include energy, biosciences and possibly some areas of computational sciences, in addition to growth in the chemical and materials sciences research we already do), I am following a formula as old as the history of the laboratory.

When Pief founded SLAC and built the original Linac, he insisted that building a world-leading facility was not enough to sustain the laboratory. He had to have world-leading scientists who would lead SLAC in getting the most from the facility and invent new directions for the future of the laboratory. A similar story has played out in the history of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsouce, where it has been extremely important to have a strong core of scientists driving both the development and best use of SSRL in areas as diverse as biology and earth sciences. The science done by our staff will drive innovations in our facilities. And then the capabilities of the facilities will drive advances in the science. This has historically been key to SLAC's success, and it is key to our future now as well.

Today, at the Energy Research Task Force Town Hall meeting, you will get an early report on the strategy for one of our areas for growth and your input will be sought on that strategy. As an Office of Science Laboratory in the Department of Energy, with substantial funding from the Division of Basic Energy Sciences, energy research must be an element of our growth strategy. I've asked the task force to identify 2-3 areas for targeted investment and a strategy for significant growth in the next few years. I look forward to hearing what the task force and the audience have to say!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, February 4, 2011