Nigel Lockyer appointed to second term as director of Fermilab

Nigel Lockyer has been reappointed as the director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. During his first four years as leader of the world-renowned laboratory he helped enhance its international scientific leadership, including the launch of a pioneering international particle physics project hosted by Fermilab.

Lockyer’s second five-year term, which begins Sept. 3, 2018, comes as Fermilab begins building its flagship project that will send neutrino particles underground from Illinois to South Dakota to unlock new insights into the origins of the universe. The lab is also a leader in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, while serving as the home of groundbreaking experiments conducted by scientists from around the world.

“For decades, scientists working at Fermilab have made major discoveries that have greatly illuminated the nature of matter and the universe. Under Nigel’s outstanding leadership, Fermilab is not only continuing many of its important ongoing projects, but has embarked upon a new ambitious research agenda for the coming years that will enable further profound discoveries,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago and chair of the board of directors of Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. 

The Fermi Research Alliance, which was formed in 2006, is a joint partnership of UChicago and the Universities Research Association, Inc. Together they manage Fermilab under a contract with the Department of Energy. Fermilab’s operations include a powerful complex of particle accelerators and sophisticated experiments to study the nature of matter, energy, space and time, with more than 4,500 scientists from 50 countries using the research facilities annually.

“On behalf of the Universities Research Association, Nigel has been an extraordinary leader, and we join the University of Chicago in enthusiastically supporting this reappointment,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, chair of the Universities Research Association and vice chair of Fermi Research Alliance, LLC.

During his first term, Lockyer positioned Fermilab as a world leader in research of neutrinos, spearheading the successful launch of the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility with locations in Illinois and South Dakota. The facility will house the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, a massive research project that brings together more than 1,000 scientists from 31 countries in a quest to understand the hard-to-detect particles and usher in a new era of international particle physics research.

“DOE is committed to supporting world-leading science at its national laboratories,” said Steve Binkley, acting director of the DOE Office of Science. “LBNF/DUNE exemplifies America’s strong partnerships with the international community in pioneering scientific discoveries.” 

Lockyer has forged new international partnerships dedicated to advancing experiments at the laboratory, while retaining Fermilab’s leadership in the Large Hadron Collider and Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN. Fermilab has contributed major components for the collider’s accelerator and Compact Muon Solenoid experiment upgrades.

As Fermilab director, Lockyer has continued Fermilab’s trailblazing program in particle astrophysics that seeks to understand the nature of dark energy and discover particles of dark matter. He has led efforts to revitalize the laboratory’s infrastructure, accelerated the laboratory’s efforts to translate scientific discoveries to applications for society and kicked off new initiatives such as Fermilab’s participation in the Chicago Quantum Exchange.

Lockyer earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from York University and a doctorate in physics from the Ohio State University. He served for more than two decades as a physics faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before arriving at Fermilab, Lockyer was director of Canada’s TRIUMF laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia. He is the 2006 recipient of the American Physical Society’s Panofsky Prize for his leading research on the bottom quark.