Fermilab's new director, Nigel Lockyer, opened with a few jokes Friday morning to set the audience at ease at his introductory all-hands meeting.
The Scot-Canadian told them they should not expect to see him in a kilt or eatting haggis, said somebody had asked him to put a Tim Horton's doughnut shop in the Wilson Hall atrium, and chided a worker who had given him a Chicago Blackhawks hockey puck that reminded him that the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks in the 2010 playoffs.
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"And now I'm your boss," Lockyer said.
Of course, he had a serious message: He wants to make sure the nation's flagship particle-physics accelerator laboratory continues to be relevant, offering the most interesting experiments that will attract the best young minds.
But unlike the days when it was the rock star of the particle physics world because of the Tevatron accelerator, Fermilab also needs to work more with others.
"Fermilab is a member of the world community, and we must strengthen that partnership," he said.
While it seems to appear the International Linear Collider is likely to end up in Japan, he noted the Japanese physics community does not have the "in-house" expertise to build it, like Fermilab does. "so they will be looking to us for help with that machine," he said.
Audience members also asked him about several experiments and projects including Project X. That's a proposed proton accelerator that the lab has hoped to start building in 2016, to facilitate research on the intensity frontier of high-energy particle physics.
Lockyer then talked about the balance between Fermilab-based experiments versus those headquartered in other countries.
"We can't do everything. So the question is, where do we trade off? There will have to be some choices," he said.
And some of those choices may become clearer soon, based on data produced by the relatively new Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Fermilab may have to be more "nimble" for a few years, he said.
"One of the things I like to say is the LHC is going to have another run and if they find something new _ and something new is something unexpected _ that may give us some signal of where the future is going to be," he said.
Lockyer has been to Fermilab before. He did research at the Collider Detector at Fermliab and was the CDF experiment's co-spokesman from 2002 through 2004. He was a guest scientist from 2002 until 2005, co-head of CDF operations and guest scientist in 2001 and 2002, and a visiting scientist in the summers of 1987 and 1988.
He replaces Pier Oddone, who stepped down June 30. Oddone had been director since 2005.