Lia Merminga named director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Lia Merminga, an internationally renowned physicist and scientist, has been named head of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, effective April 18.

Merminga will serve as the seventh director of Fermilab, a 6,800-acre facility headquartered in Batavia, Illinois, which is America’s premier particle physics and accelerator laboratory. Fermilab’s mission is to shed new light on our understanding of the universe, from the smallest building blocks of matter to the deepest secrets of dark matter and dark energy.

University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos made the announcement April 5 in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Fermi Research Alliance, LLC, which operates the U.S. Department of Energy lab.

Merminga will succeed Nigel Lockyer, who announced in September that he would step down as laboratory director after an eight-year term. She is the first woman to hold the position of director of Fermilab.

“Lia brings to this critical role an exceptional track record of success, a passion for science, a proven ability to execute major projects, a focus on the talent and diversity of the Fermilab community, and a strong commitment to national communities. high-energy physics world,” said Alivisatos. “We are grateful to Nigel for his leadership of Fermilab and his long tradition of building and strengthening the international collaboration essential to advancing scientific discovery globally. I look forward to working with Lia as she leads the US Particle and Accelerator Physics Laboratory into a new era of exploring the fundamental questions of matter, energy, space and time. for the benefit of all.

Merminga first arrived at Fermilab in 1987 as a student in the new graduate program in accelerator physics and completed her doctorate. thesis on the Tevatron, commissioned at the time as a collider. She was the second student to graduate from the program.

“Fermilab has given me a very rewarding career. I love the institution and am thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the lab,” Merminga said. “Following the vision of the 2014 Particle Physics Project Prioritization Group (P5), Fermilab, together with its national and international partners, has embarked on a truly ambitious range of construction projects which, when completed, will ensure the American leadership in the world’s particle physics program for decades to come. The flagship among them is LBNF/DUNE, the first mega science experiment designed, built and operated internationally on American soil. My goal as Director of Fermilab is to deliver on this deep and compelling vision while continuing to deliver breakthrough science and technology innovations, activating the new P5 strategy, and realizing the lab’s full potential for development and workforce diversity. labor, laboratory operations and regional, national development, and international partnerships.

Merminga is currently Project Director of the Proton Improvement Plan II or PIP-II at Fermilab, a critical upgrade to Fermilab’s accelerator complex that will allow the world’s most intense high-energy neutrino beam to reach the lighthouse. long-base neutrino facility and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment and conduct a vast research program in physics.

A house for neutrino physics

Merminga will lead the lab as it transitions to become the world’s leading facility for studying neutrinos. Neutrinos are virtually invisible particles that pass through most matter without leaving a trace, but they are thought to hold key secrets about the fundamental makeup of the universe, as well as clues to the galaxy around us.

The laboratory’s current flagship program is the International Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). DUNE scientists will use neutrinos to answer some of the deepest questions about our universe. The LBNF, located at Fermilab and the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, will produce the world’s most intense neutrino beam, which will be directed to massive underground detectors 800 miles away. The DUNE experiment brings together more than 1,400 scientists in more than 35 countries who contribute their expertise and build components of the experiment. Fermilab’s PIP-II accelerator will power the neutrino beam.