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In this issue:
SLAC Summer Institute Begins Today
Dorfan Today: McCallum-Turner
SLAC's Office of Assurance
Safety Firsts

SLAC Today

Monday - July 30, 2007

SSI 2007 will focus on dark matter.

SLAC Summer Institute Begins Today

Beginning today, students and physicists from across the country and around the world will converge at SLAC's Panofsky Auditorium for the 35th annual SLAC Summer Institute (SSI). Every year SLAC hosts the program, which is aimed towards educating graduate students and post-docs—though anyone can attend—through a series of lectures and talks. This year's topic, dark matter, will be covered in detail by prominent physicists in daily lectures.

Mysterious and invisible, dark matter makes up about 22 percent of the mass in the universe. Yet very little is known about it. Two weeks of lectures will explore many aspects of dark matter including observational evidence for its existence, its role in cosmic evolution and structure formation, indirect and direct searches, and attempts to produce it at colliders. Also, additional afternoon meetings will provide updates on the latest results from major astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics experiments.

"We're very excited about this year's program," said SSI coordinator, Thanh Ky Ly. "With 34 scientists coming to speak on such a fascinating topic, SSI 2007 will be full of fun and excitement."

In addition to the lectures and talks, the program also features SLAC tours, dinners, social hours, poster and discussion sessions, and the infamous soccer game to round out the activities. With 267 people attending, this year's SSI is sure to be a tremendous success.

(Director's Column - Dorfan Today)

The Next Steps

Thanks to everyone who attended the All Hands meeting a few weeks ago. It is always a pleasure to talk directly with all of you and, in this case, to discuss how we are taking ownership of improving the effectiveness and efficiency with which we perform the critical business practices, processes and support functions that underpin our scientific mission. You were able to meet Bob McCallum and Kyle Turner and hear directly from them how they will be implementing the key partnership role that McCallum-Turner Inc (McT) is playing in this improvement program. They outlined the 11 areas of focus that resulted from the initial McT scoping phase. Bob, Kyle and I greatly appreciated your frank, perceptive and incisive questions and comments and we have incorporated your suggestions and concerns in the planning. Today I would like to lay out the next steps in the process.

As I have expressed previously, McT have many years of experience working with Department of Energy (DOE) labs, as well as in commercial business settings, and they bring with them a well-earned reputation for tailoring their relationship to best suit the needs of their partners. To that end, Bob and Kyle will return on August 7-8 for a second round of site tours and field visit designed to help them better understand the unique working community at SLAC. Then, during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of September, they will be back with a team of specialists from other DOE labs to conduct the most comprehensive phase of the review process.

Since the All Hands meeting, joint activity has centered on two main tasks: choosing and signing up the specialists for the expanded McT review team and enlisting SLAC staff who will serve as coordinators (we are calling them Points of Contact, POCs) for each of the 11 areas of focus. Each of the POCs will assemble a SLAC team to broaden the scope of the SLAC involvement. We are concentrating now on building a sound working relationship with, and a comprehensive knowledge base for, the McT review group. We want to ensure that they arrive at SLAC in September fully apprised of who we are and well connected to their respective SLAC POC group. To that end, McT has developed a detailed Work Plan to guide the team members and the SLAC POCs are developing summary documents that characterize how we currently perform the support functions of the focus areas.

As was emphasized in the All Hands meeting, we strongly encourage relevant input from each and every one of you regarding what you may feel merits inclusion or warrants the attention of our visiting colleagues. We have established a private phone-line, 926-6200, and e-mail address,, for you to share your input. I hope you will take full advantage of these channels of communication to help make this experience as fruitful as possible for all.

We will soon announce an internet-based system that will provide you with status and all the relevant background information regarding this process.

I would like to reiterate that this review is not an external audit designed to focus on performance gaps that will result in a new set of burdensome controls, but is an evaluation initiated by SLAC and tailored to help us identify business practices, processes and support functions that warrant improvement. Our goal is to strengthen the foundations that support our primary mission at SLAC—producing world class science. In the end, not just SLAC, but the scientific community at large, will be the beneficiaries of our hard work.

SLAC's Office of Assurance

(Photo - Ruth McDunn and Walter Leclerc)
Ruth McDunn and Walter Leclerc. (Click image for larger version.)

For those of you who've missed her in her role with InfoMedia Solutions, Ruth McDunn has a new mission. Together with Walter Leclerc, Ruth is now a part of one of SLAC's newest teams—the Office of Assurance.

The Office of Assurance, created in early 2006 under the leadership of Robin Wendt (now departed), is charged with assuring the Laboratory Director and DOE's Stanford Site Office (SSO) that SLAC programs are safe, secure, adhere to ethical and compliant business practices, meet customer requirements, meet reasonable standards of formality, and meet requirements and standards specified in the contract between Stanford and the DOE. McDunn joined the team in May, and currently she is overseeing a review of the JHAM process

"There's a whole new set of acronyms I have to learn," she says. "I'm submitting them to SLACSpeak as fast as I can."

Another one of Ruth’s tasks is to coordinate facility walkthroughs with SSO. The walkthrough program follows a three-year cycle and is designed to ensure SLAC's various facilities—each of which has a range of unique hazards—runs in top form with respect to maintaining the highest safety and environmental standards.

With the assistance of various SLAC organizations, the office has completed a handful of projects already, including evaluations of the Chemical Management Services and Hazardous Materials Programs; Radiological Environmental Protection (REP) Program; Emergency Management Program; Environmental, Safety and Health Training Program; and the Radiation Protection Program (RPP).

"There's a lot more work to be done with Campus and across SLAC," says Leclerc. "But we've made some huge strides in the last year."

McDunn, who started at SLAC in 1991 as a safety trainer and most recently worked as a Senior Web Information Specialist for InfoMedia, says that her experience managing lots of information helps her tremendously in her new role. "I'm eager to use these skills to benefit the lab in the most influential way I can," she says. "The Office of Assurance is really here to help SLAC do its science."

Safety Firsts

Most of us approach stairs or uneven surfaces many times a day, and don't think about the potential danger they present until we hear of someone else getting hurt. Unfortunately, as opposed to say a Great White Shark, stairs and walkways look pretty harmless. Growing up in Hawaii, I had to learn the same lesson about the ocean.

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