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Press Release: Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Reorganizes to Position Itself for Major Discoveries

Date Issued: May 25, 2005


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On May 24, Jonathan Dorfan, director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), announced a complete reorganization of the structure and senior management of the laboratory, which Stanford University has operated for more than 40 years for the U.S. Department of Energy. The new organizational structure is built around four new divisions--Photon Science, Particle & Particle Astrophysics, Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) Construction and Operations.

"One thing that is recurrent in world class scientific research is change," Dorfan said. "Recognizing new science goals and discovery opportunities and adapting rapidly to exploit them efficiently, cost effectively and safely is the mark of a great laboratory. Thanks to the support of the Department of Energy's Office of Science and Stanford University, SLAC is ideally placed to make important breakthroughs over a wide spectrum of discovery in photon science and particle and particle astrophysics.

"These fields are evolving rapidly and we are remodeling the management structure to mobilize SLAC's exceptional staff to better serve its large user community. The new structure is adapted to allow them to get on with what they do best--make major discoveries."

Two of the new divisions--Photon Science and Particle & Particle Astrophysics--encompass SLAC's major research directions.

As director of the Photon Science Division, Keith Hodgson has responsibility for the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, the science and instrument program for the LCLS (the world's first X-ray free electron laser) and the new Ultrafast Science Center.

"Photon science is the most rapidly expanding element in the changing balance of scientific foci at SLAC," Hodgson said. "Three central and interconnected elements--synchrotron-based research using SPEAR3 [SLAC's synchrotron radiation facility], [X-ray free-electron laser] development and research using the LCLS and four interdisciplinary, science-based initiatives--create a coherent program that, for about 3,000 users, will produce outstanding photon science that cuts across many disciplines. By 2010, no single laboratory in the world will have an equal ability to investigate both the ultra-fast and the ultra-small."

Persis Drell, director of the Particle & Particle Astrophysics Division, oversees the B-Factory [an international collaboration studying matter and anti-matter], the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, the International Linear Collider effort, accelerator research and non-accelerator particle physics programs.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for the field of particle physics," said Drell. "With the B-Factory program, [the Gamma Ray Large Area Telescope] and new near-term initiatives being developed at the lab, SLAC is poised to make discoveries about the fundamental nature of our universe. Furthermore, we are doing the essential R&D, especially in accelerator research, that will enable the future discoveries of the field."

Construction of the $379 million LCLS, a key element in the future of accelerator-based science at SLAC, started this fiscal year. A significant part of the laboratory's resources and manpower are being devoted to building LCLS, with completion of the project scheduled for 2009. Commissioning will begin in 2008 and first science experiments are planned for 2009. John Galayda serves as director of the LCLS Construction division.

To reinforce SLAC's administrative and operational efficiency and to stress the importance of strong and effective line management at the laboratory, a new position of chief operating officer has been created, filled by John Cornuelle. This fourth division, Operations, has broad responsibilities for operational support and R&D efforts that are central to the science divisions. Included in Operations will be environmental safety and health, scientific computing and computing services, mechanical and electrical support departments, business services, central facilities and maintenance and more.

"I have also asked Hodgson and Drell to act as deputy laboratory directors," explained Dorfan. "I will rely on their experience, expertise, and strength in the scientific areas that they represent. Together with the chief operating officer and LCLS director, we have built a strong management team. This new SLAC management team will share a co-located set of offices to encourage the integration of the laboratory's programs."

No layoffs are expected. The reorganization is expected to increase SLAC's user base.

Said Raymond L. Orbach, director of the DOE Office of Science: "SLAC is a laboratory with a remarkable future, one that represents a transition from its historic role in high energy physics to new frontiers of comparable scientific impact. The LCLS will be the world's first hard-X-ray laser, capable of brilliance not known before on Earth enabling structure determination of single macromolecules, and on time scales so fast that chemical reactions can be frozen in time. The combination of SPEAR3 and the LCLS gives SLAC the promise of world leadership in photon science. I am pleased to see this promise reflected in the new organizational structure. SLAC's particle and particle astrophysics programs are also poised to make discoveries both in accelerator and non-accelerator physics research. It is an exciting time for SLAC, and for the entire scientific community."

Said Stanford Provost John Etchemendy: "Stanford University is excited by the future at SLAC. The laboratory has distinguished itself by sensing the most compelling new science and has quickly positioned itself to be a leader in the world research community in photon science and particle and particle astrophysics. We look forward to strengthening the university's support for SLAC, especially in the fields of ultrafast science, particle astrophysics and computing. SLAC has a glorious past, but the future looks even brighter."


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