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Nigel Lockyer to take the reins at Fermilab

Nigel lockyer

TRIUMF’s Nigel Lockyer will soon be Chicago bound. (Courtesy: TRIUMF)

By Hamish Johnston

The particle physicist Nigel Lockyer will take over as director of Fermilab in September this year. Lockyer is currently in charge of TRIUMF in Vancouver, Canada. He will succeed Pier Oddone, who is stepping down after heading Fermilab for eight years.

Born in Scotland and raised in Canada, Lockyer did a PhD at The Ohio State University followed by a postdoc at SLAC in California. He joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, where he was a member of the CDF experiment that ran on the Tevatron collider at Fermilab. He joined TRIUMF as its director in 2007.

Fermilab is located just outside Chicago and Lockyer will arrive at an important juncture in the lab’s 45-year history. Tevatron – once the world’s most energetic collider – shut down in 2011 and the lab currently has no firm plans to build a new high-energy facility to rival CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. As a result, Fermilab has been cutting the number of its employees as well as rethinking its scientific goals.

Indeed, tomorrow a huge particle storage ring will begin a 5000-km barge journey from the Brookhaven National Lab in New York to Fermilab (via New Orleans). The ring is 30 m in diameter and will be used in Fermilab’s new Muon g-2 experiment, which aims to make the best measurement yet of the muon’s gyromagnetic ratio. Success could point to physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.

Other newish projects at Fermilab include the Illinois Accelerator Research Centre and the NOvA long-baseline neutrino experiment – both of which should be up and running in the next year or so.

When Lockyer takes up his post, there will be at least two major national labs in the US headed by Canadians. The other one is Oak Ridge in Tennessee, which is directed by condensed-matter physicist Thom Mason. who did his PhD at my alma mater McMaster University.

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