BATAVIA—Nigel Lockyer, director of Canada’s TRIUMF laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia, was recently selected to become the next director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. A suite of new projects awaits Lockyer at Fermilab, which is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics research.
An experimental particle physicist, Lockyer, 60, has directed TRIUMF since May 2007. Under his leadership, TRIUMF formulated a vision for ascending the world stage in nuclear physics using rare-isotope beams to address some of the most fundamental questions in science.
The flagship of the plan is the $100 million Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory (ARIEL), built around a world-class electron accelerator that employs next-generation superconducting radio frequency technology.
Lockyer has become well acquainted with Fermilab while serving in a variety of capacities dating back more than 25 years. He performed research for many years at the Collider Detector at Fermilab experiment at Fermilab’s Tevatron, serving as the experiment’s co-spokesperson from 2002 through 2004. He also was a Fermilab guest scientist from 2002 until 2005, co-head of CDF operations and guest scientist in 2001 and 2002, and a visiting scientist during the summers of 1987 and 1988.
He was an early leader of efforts to construct a test facility at Fermilab for advanced particle accelerator technology that would be used to power the International Linear Collider. Such a test facility for high-gradient superconducting cavities has since been built at Fermilab in partnership with national and international institutions.
As Fermilab director, Lockyer also will oversee operations of a powerful complex of newly upgraded particle accelerators and sophisticated experiments to study the nature of matter, energy, space and time. Thousands of scientists from around the world use Fermilab facilities for their research. The largest of Fermilab’s new projects is the NOvA Neutrino Experiment under construction at Fermilab and in Ash River, Minn. NOvA will investigate neutrino oscillations, a phenomenon that could hold important clues to the evolution of the early universe. Fermilab is also the U.S. hub for research into the Higgs boson and other phenomena using the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
Lockyer’s medical-physics background meshes well with a new R&D center that Fermilab is building in partnership with the State of Illinois. This center will be dedicated to accelerating the transfer of technologies developed for particle physics research to other sectors of society, including medicine, manufacturing and energy.
Lockyer’s term as Fermilab director will begin Tuesday, Sept. 3. Fermilab Chief Operating Officer Jack Anderson will serve as interim director starting Monday, July 1.