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From the Director: SLAC Science

Science online (Site: AAAS.)

When I became director two years ago I had three goals for the lab:

1. Deliver the Linac Coherent Light Source project and science.

2. Rebuild the management and operations functions of the laboratory.

3. Develop a scientific vision for the laboratory's future.

The progress on LCLS has been spectacular. We will declare project victory with completion of the Critical Decision 4 milestone this year. The science turn on has been outstanding.

On the second goal, rebuilding the management and operations functions of the lab, we have made tremendous progress in the last year. While we have a long way to go, we also have an extraordinary team in place in the Operations Directorate that is dedicated to accelerating our progress in the year to come. The TEAM 2 review, which many of you participated in, will deliver a report by the end of the month and will help guide us forward.

The long-term science vision driving the development of the accelerator facilities on our site is moving forward nicely with plans for the first upgrades of LCLS and FACET construction. There will be more upgrades of LCLS to come and the possibility of PEP-X in the longer term future.

But delivering on our science vision for the future is not just about the fabulous facilities we operate for users. It's about the science that we ourselves do that drives the frontiers of the fields of photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator science. This is where I want to focus in the coming year. It is my goal that we start to grow significantly in the size and scope of our science programs.

I want to end by sharing a piece of wonderful news from the end of 2009. Every year the final issue of Science magazine selects what they consider to be the most exciting science breakthroughs of the year. Science gives a first place recognition, a runner up and then 8 other scientific breakthroughs they consider important. It's a great honor to make the list.

For 2009, an absolutely unprecedented two of SLAC's programs are celebrated on the list of breakthroughs. The Runner-Up Breakthrough of the Year for 2009 is "opening up the gamma ray sky" as represented by the discovery of gamma-ray pulsars with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Also on the list is "the giant X-ray laser created at the Stanford Linear Accelerator." This recognition is a great way to end 2009 and an inspiring way to start the new decade!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, January 8, 2010