The Fermi Research Alliance Board of Directors, which manages and operates Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, announced on Aug. 2 that Fermilab Director Pier Oddone has decided to retire after eight years at the helm of America’s leading particle physics laboratory. Oddone will continue to serve as Fermilab director until July 1, 2013, while a committee appointed by the FRA board chairman conducts an international search for his successor.
Oddone was named in 2005 as Fermilab’s fifth director after serving as deputy director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Oddone led Fermilab during a period of remarkable scientific achievement, and laid the foundation for a future of world-leading scientific research at the laboratory. Major discoveries were announced from every aspect of Fermilab’s scientific program, including the experiments at the Tevatron collider, the laboratory’s suite of neutrino experiments, and its programs to study dark matter and high-energy cosmic particles.
“During Pier’s eight years as director, Fermilab has made remarkable contributions to the world’s understanding of particle physics,” said FRA Board Chairman and UChicago President Robert J. Zimmer. “Pier’s leadership has ensured that Fermilab remains the centerpiece of particle physics research in the United States, and that the laboratory’s facilities and resources are focused on groundbreaking discoveries.”
Under Oddone’s direction, Fermilab’s Tevatron experiments zeroed in on the hiding place of the long-sought Higgs boson, discovered a suite of exotic particles, and shed new light on the relationship between matter and antimatter. Fermilab completed significant contributions to the accelerator and CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, opened a remote operations center for the LHC on the Fermilab site, and played a leading role in the analysis of data leading to the July 4 discovery of a new particle likely to be the Higgs boson.
Fermilab’s neutrino experiments made major contributions to the worldwide quest to understand these elusive particles, including the most precise measurements of the transformations of some types of neutrinos into each other. Laboratory-led projects and programs identified possible sources of the highest-energy cosmic rays to hit Earth’s atmosphere, and led the world in the search for particles of dark matter.
“The scientific discoveries that Pier has overseen, and the new projects now under construction on Fermilab site, are testament to Pier’s vision for advancing particle physics research in the United States,” said DOE Office of Science Director Bill Brinkman. “We commend Pier’s unwavering commitment to excellence in scientific research and laboratory operations.”
Oddone paved the way for the laboratory’s future, overseeing a transition from an era of high-energy collisions with the Tevatron particle accelerator to an era of research with very intense beams of particles. Over the past seven years, Fermilab has:
- Developed into a world-leading center for R&D towards future particle accelerators based on superconducting radio-frequency technology;
- Begun construction of NOvA, the world’s most advanced neutrino experiment that will begin operating in 2013;
- Broke ground on the Illinois Accelerator Research Center, an R&D facility that starting in 2014 will advance breakthroughs in accelerator science and translate them into applications for the nation's health, wealth and security;
- Started developing new facilities for research with beams of muons;
- Expanded international partnerships, signing new agreements with institutions in India and Korea on R&D towards future particle accelerators and detectors.
“Pier has continued and strengthened Fermilab’s strong tradition of scientific excellence,” said Steven Beering, executive chair of the Board of Trustees of Universities Research Association, Inc. “We thank him for his distinguished service to the laboratory and to the scientific community."
Fermi Research Alliance, LLC operates Fermilab under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. FRA is a partnership of the University of Chicago and Universities Research Association, Inc., a consortium of 85 research universities.