Several new members join Fermilab board of directors

University Communications

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory, the leading institution for particle physics research in the United States and one of the leading such institutions in the world. For decades, work at Fermilab has led to fundamental discoveries about the elementary building blocks of the universe and likewise about the evolution of the universe. Planning is now underway for Fermilab to build a major facility for the study of neutrinos, one of the most mysterious particles in the universe, enabling it to launch the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.

Since the start of 2015, Fermi Research Alliance LLC, a partnership between the University of Chicago and Universities Research Association, has appointed several distinguished new members to its board of directors. Members of the board serve as ambassadors and advisers in support of Fermilab’s ambitious research agenda and play a leading role in the advancement of scientific objectives.

“We are very pleased to welcome these distinguished leaders to the board of directors,” said President Robert J. Zimmer, who chairs the Fermilab board. “Their collective expertise and accomplishments will help to facilitate the lab’s work as a leader in fundamental scientific discovery.”

The newest members of the board are:

  • Sam Pitroda, former adviser to the prime minister of India on public information, infrastructure and innovation
  • Steven M. Ritz, professor of physics and director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Maxine Savitz, vice-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
  • F. Quinn Stepan, chairman of Stepan Company
  • John Womersley, chief executive officer of the Science and Technology Facilities Council

Members that will join in January 2016 are:

  • Kate Gregory, (rear admiral of the U.S. Navy, ret.), former commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command and chief of civil engineers
  • Rolf-Dieter Heuer, president-elect of the German Physical Society and director-general of CERN, 2009-15

“It is a privilege to be working for such an esteemed group,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. “Their engagement reflects well on our laboratory's past achievements and bodes well for our future successes.”

Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermilab for the U.S. Department of Energy, announced in August 2014 that it would restructure its board to better support the laboratory and advance Fermilab’s position as a global leader in high-energy physics—neutrino science in particular. These new members will serve three-year terms as members of the board of directors, which will eventually include up to 15 global business, academic and public leaders.

“This is an exciting time for particle physics in the United States and abroad. Fermilab has all the right ingredients to continue to make important discoveries about our world, train the next generation of scientists and develop cutting-edge technologies that drive innovation and grow the economy. The new board will help us in this endeavor,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, vice chair of the Fermi Research Alliance and president of Michigan State University. 

More on the board’s new members:

Katherine L. Gregory was the first female flag officer in the United States Navy Civil Engineer Corps. She served as commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command and chief of civil engineers, the highest-ranking civil engineer in the Navy, until November 2015. Prior assignments included duty as the Pacific Fleet Engineer and commander of NAVFAC Pacific, supporting the U.S. military's refocusing on the Pacific area, and also as the chief of staff for the First Naval Construction Division during the realignment of military troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Gregory graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and has served in roles of increasing responsibility in the United States Navy since 1978 until her retirement at the beginning of November 2015. Gregory will join the board in January 2016.

Rolf-Dieter Heuer is president-elect of the German Physical Society and member of the European Commission’s high-level scientific advisory group. He currently serves as the director-general of CERN, a position he has held since 2009 and from which he will step down in December 2015. For much of his career, he has been involved with the construction and operation of large particle detector systems for studying electron-positron collisions. Prior to 2009, Heuer served as research director for particle and astroparticle physics at the German research laboratory DESY, as a professor at the University of Hamburg, and a staff member at CERN working on the OPAL collaboration at the Large Electron Positron collider. Heuer will join the board in January 2016.

Sam Pitroda, an internationally respected telecom inventor, entrepreneur, development thinker and policymaker, has spent 49 years in information and communications technology and related global and national developments. Credited with having laid the foundation for India’s telecommunications and technology revolution of the 1980s, Pitroda has helped lead the campaign to help bridge the global digital divide. Recently, Pitroda served as adviser to the prime minister of India on public information, infrastructure and innovation, with the rank of a cabinet minister. He has served as the chairman of the Smart Grid Task Force, as well as the committees to reform public broadcasting, modernize railways and deliver e-governance and other developmental activities.

Steven M. Ritz is a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. He has conducted accelerator-based experiments at most of the world's leading laboratories. His current interests include dark energy studies using weak lensing and searches for signatures of dark matter. Ritz is involved in several aspects of science policy, including serving as chair of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel. Since 1996, he has been very active in the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which has made significant discoveries in a wide variety of topics, ranging from cosmic particle accelerators to searches for signals of dark matter and tests of fundamental physics. He is now the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Camera Project Scientist. Ritz is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. 

Maxine Savitz serves as vice-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. She is the former deputy assistant secretary for conservation in the U.S. Department of Energy. She received the Outstanding Service Medal from the DOE in 1981. Prior to her DOE service, she was program manager for Research Applied to National Needs at the National Science Foundation. Following her government service, Savitz served in executive positions in the private sector, including president of Lighting Research Institute, assistant to the vice president for engineering at The Garrett Corporation and general manager of Allied Signal Ceramic Components. She retired from the position of general manager for technology partnerships at Honeywell. She served as vice president of the National Academy of Engineering from 2006-2014.

F. Quinn Stepan, chairman of Stepan Company, has worked for the company founded by his father, Alfred C. Stepan Jr., since 1961. During this time he held various executive leadership roles, including chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer, and director of the company. During his leadership, the company has grown in size and stature to a $1.5 billion enterprise, with 2,100 employees and 19 manufacturing facilities around the world. Stepan Company, based in Northfield, Ill., is one of the largest global manufacturers of surfactants and polyester polyols. Stepan is a former chairman of the Soap and Detergent Association’s board of directors and served on the board for seven years. In addition to SDA, he took active roles in a number of industry organizations, including the American Chemistry Council, the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois and the Illinois Business Roundtable.

John Womersley is chief executive officer of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the United Kingdom’s funding agency for Big Science. A graduate of Cambridge and Oxford universities, he has played a leading role in particle physics both in Europe and the United States. He worked at Florida State University and Fermilab and was a scientific adviser to the U.S. Department of Energy. Womersley's scientific achievements include his time as spokesperson for Fermilab's D-Zero experiment, when he coordinated analysis and publications, including placing the first experimental particle physics paper in Nature for more than 70 years. He was the lead author of numerous scientific papers analyzing the properties of high-energy particle collisions and searching for the Higgs boson and other new physics phenomena. He has more than 600 articles published in refereed journals, including the co-discovery of the top quark in 1995.