Tag Archives: Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics

From the quantum to the cosmos; an event at Vancouver’s (Canada) Science World

ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers & Professionals in Western Canada) sent out an April 9, 2014 announcement,

FROM THE QUANTUM TO THE COSMOS

May 7 [2014] “Unveiling the Universe” lecture registration now open:

Join Science World and TRIUMF on Wednesday, May 7, at Science World at TELUS World of Science in welcoming Professor Edward “Rocky” Kolb, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, for his lecture on how the laws of quantum physics at the tiniest distances relate to structures in the universe at the largest scales. He also will highlight recent spectacular results into the nature of the Big Bang from the orbiting Planck satellite and the South Pole-based BICEP2 telescope.

Doors open at 6:15pm and lecture starts at 7pm. It will be followed by an audience Q&A session.

Tickets are free but registration is required. Details on the registration page (link below)
See http://www.eventbrite.ca/o/unveiling-the-universe-lecture-series-2882137721?s=23658359 for more information.

You can go here to the Science World website for more details and another link for tickets,

Join Science World, TRIUMF and guest speaker Dr Rocky Kolb on Wednesday, May 7 [2014], for another free Unveiling the Universe public lecture about the inner space/outer space connection that may hold the key to understanding the nature of dark matter, dark energy and the mysterious seeds of structure that grew to produce everything we see in the cosmos.

I notice Kolb is associated with the Fermi Lab, which coincidentally is where TRIUMF’s former director, Nigel Lockyer is currently located. You can find out more about Kolb on his personal webpage, where I found this description from his repertoire of talks,

Mysteries of the Dark Universe
Ninety-five percent of the universe is missing! Astronomical observations suggest that most of the mass of the universe is in a mysterious form called dark matter and most of the energy in the universe is in an even more mysterious form called dark energy. Unlocking the secrets of dark matter and dark energy will illuminate the nature of space and time and connect the quantum with the cosmos.

Perhaps this along with the next bit gives you a clearer idea of what Kolb will be discussing. He will also be speaking at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory of particle and nuclear physics, from the events page,

Wed ,2014-05-07    14:00    Colloquium    Rocky Kolb, Fermilab     Auditorium    The Decade of the WIMP
Abstract:    The bulk of the matter in the present universe is dark. The most attractive possibility for the nature of the dark matter is a new species of elementary particle known as a WIMP (a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle). After a discussion of how a WIMP might fit into models of particle physics, I will review the current situation with respect to direct detection, indirect detection, and collider production of WIMPs. Rapid advances in the field should enable us to answer by the end of the decade whether our universe is dominated by WIMPs.

You may want to get your tickets soon as other lectures in the Unveiling the Universe series have gone quickly.

New director for TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics starts

Here’s the announcement, straight from the March 18, 2014 TRIUMF news release,

After a seven month, highly competitive, international search for TRIUMF’s next director, the laboratory’s Board of Management announced today that Dr. Jonathan Bagger, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Vice Provost, and former Interim Provost at the Johns Hopkins University, will join TRIUMF this summer as the laboratory’s next director.

TRIUMF is Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, focusing on probing the structure and origins of matter and advancing isotopes for science and medicine.  Located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, TRIUMF is owned and operated by a consortium of 18 leading Canadian universities and supported by the federal and provincial governments.

Bagger was attracted to TRIUMF because, “Its collaborative, interdisciplinary model represents the future for much of science.  TRIUMF helps Canada connect fundamental research to important societal goals, ranging from health and safety to education and innovation.”  Noting TRIUMF’s new strategic plan that recently secured five years of core funding from the Government of Canada, he added, “It is an exciting time to lead the
laboratory.”

Bagger brings extensive experience to the job.  Professor Paul Young, Chair of TRIUMF’s Board of Management and Vice-President of Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto, said, “Jon is an outstanding, internationally renowned physicist with a wealth of leadership experience and a track record of excellence.  He is a welcome addition to Canada and I am confident that under his tenure, TRIUMF will continue to flourish.”

Jim Hanlon, Interim CEO/Chief Administrator Officer of TRIUMF and President and CEO of Advanced Applied Physics Solutions Inc., welcomed the news.  He said, “The laboratory has been shaped and served greatly by its past directors.  Today the need continues for an extraordinary combination of vision, leadership, and excellence.  Jon will bring all of this and more to TRIUMF.  On behalf of the staff, we’re excited about moving forward with Jon
at the helm.”

Bagger expressed his enthusiasm in moving across the border to join TRIUMF as the next director. “TRIUMF is known internationally for its impressive capabilities in science and engineering, ranging from rare-isotope studies on its Vancouver campus to its essential contributions to the Higgs boson discovery at CERN.  All rest on the legendary dedication and commitment of TRIUMF’s researchers and staff.  I look forward to working with this
terrific team to advance innovation and discovery in Vancouver, in Canada, and on the international stage.”

Bagger will lead the laboratory for a six-year term beginning July 1 [2014].  He reports he is ready to go:  “I have installed a metric speedometer in my car, downloaded the Air Canada app, and cleansed my home of all Washington Capitals gear.”

Nice of Bagger to start his new job on Canada Day. From a symbolic perspective, it’s an interesting start date. As for his metric speedometer and Air Canada app, bravo! Perhaps though he might have wanted the last clause to feature the Vancouver Canucks, e.g., ‘and set aside money/have set aside space for Vancouver Canucks gear’. You can find out more about TRIUMF here.

Silence of the Labs (exposé) a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television event scheduled for January 10, 2014

I’ve perhaps overstated the case by calling the upcoming telecast ‘Silence of the Labs’ an event,. For many people in the Canadian science community, it will be an event but for most of the television audience it’s simply the first new episode of the Fifth Estate’s 2014 schedule. (For anyone unfamiliar with the Fifth Estate, it’s the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s [CBC] longest running, 39th season, and most prestigious investigative journalism television programme.)

Assuming there are some people who haven’t been following this story about the ‘silencing’ of Canada’s scientists or censorship as it has been called, here’s a précis (and if you’ve been following it more closely than I have and note any errors or have any additions, please do use the commenting option (Note: Due to spam issues, I moderate comments so it may take a few hours or more [I don't usually check the blog on the weekends]  before your comments appear.)

I think my earliest mention of the topic was in 2009 (Sept. 21, 2009; scroll down to the last paragraph). At this point, the Conservative government  had put a ‘muzzle’ on government scientists working for Environment Canada not allowing them to speak directly to media representatives about their work. All questions were to be directed to ministry communications officers. In fact, the muzzle was first discussed in a National Post Jan. 31, 200-8 article by Margaret Munro (which predates this blog’s existence by a few months). In a Sept. 16, 2013 posting, I featured the then recent muzzling of Natural Resources Canada, a story which was first covered by Margaret Munro. My understanding is that Health Canada had also been ‘muzzled’ but that was done earlier by the Liberal government when it was in power.

My colleague, David Bruggemen (Pasco Phronesis blog) disagrees with the contention by many in the Canadian science community that these ‘muzzles’ constitute a form of censorship. In addition to the postings he has made on his blog he also commented on my March 7, 2012 posting (I linked to one of David’s postings on the topic and included an excerpt from it) where I discussed my failure to get answers to questions from an institution located on the University of British Columbia lands and linked it to the ‘muzzle’. In that context,, I mused about censorship.

Since 2012 the focus seems to have shifted from media representatives being able to get direct and uninhibited access to scientists to the public’s right to know and attempts to ‘shut down’ scientific inquiry. In July 2012, there was a rally in Ottawa called Death of Evidence (discussed in both my July 10, 2012 posting and my July 13, 2012 posting followed by a 2013 cross Canada event, Stand up for Science described in my Oct. 4, 2013 posting. As I noted in that posting, most of the science being ‘censored’ or ‘attacked’ is environmental. Institutions such as the Perimeter Institute (theoretical physics)  in Ontario and TRIUMF, Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics in British Columbia have done very well under the Conservative government.

with all that, here’s a preview (51 seconds) of the Silence of the Labs,

You can find out more about the episode here and, if you should miss the telecast, you’ll probably be able to watch later on the Fifth Estate’s CBC  Player webpage. As for the ‘Silence of the Labs” (hat off for the pun), I believe it will be broadcast at 9 pm regardless of timezone on the local CBC channel across most of the country; I assume that as usual Newfoundland will enjoy the telecast at 9:30 pm.

TRIUMF announces both an interim director and an unusual job sharing plan with Japan

A July 17, 2013 TRIUMF news release announces a new interim structure (CEO? and name change?) and an international search for a permanent replacement while they wish current director Nigel Lockyer well as he dances out the door to his new job as director of the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois,

TRIUMF’s Board of Management today announced plans for interim leadership of the laboratory.  Present director Nigel S. Lockyer will be leaving TRIUMF and headed to the U.S. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory as its new director effective September 3, 2013.  Interim leadership will be provided by the Board and a team of current senior staff.

In its discussions, the Board reviewed the following considerations:

+ The laboratory’s near-term activities and plans are well-defined and
publicly declared in its Five-Year Plan 2010-2015;
+ Effective stewardship of the laboratory in this interim period requires
familiarity and experience with TRIUMF;
+ The senior management team of the laboratory is successful and efficient;
and
+ The Board of Management, representing the university owners of TRIUMF, is
ultimately responsible for the laboratory and its operations and the
fulfillment of the laboratory’s mission.

To achieve these objectives, an interim-leadership structure composed of a management team, direct participation by members of the Board, and a new President and CEO of TRIUMF Accelerators, Inc. will be implemented on August 1, 2013 (thereby providing one-month overlap with the present Laboratory Director).

The Board of Management will exercise oversight and control of TRIUMF through weekly meetings between laboratory management and the Chair of the Finance Committee of the Board and monthly meetings between laboratory management and the Chair of the Board.

The laboratory will manage day-to-day operations using a team of existing senior staff.  The team will consist of three elements:

1. Scientific and Engineering Leadership Team (including the Heads of the Science, Engineering, Nuclear Medicine, and Accelerator Divisions);
2. Administrative Leadership Team (including the Chief Financial Officer; the Head of the Business and Administration Division; the Manager, Environment, Health and Safety; and the Head of Strategic Planning and Communication); and
3. An Interim Chief Executive Officer / Chief Administrative Officer (CEO/CAO) who will have signing authority for TRIUMF and will be responsible for the smooth operation and performance of the teams.  This role will be filled by Jim Hanlon who will be accountable to the Board on a day-to-day
basis for the laboratory. Jim is currently Head of the Business & Administration Division and Secretary to the TRIUMF Board of Management.

The new interim President and CEO of TRIUMF Accelerators, Inc. will be Jim Hanlon.  [emphasis mine] Other officers remain as they are.  The interim and transitional arrangement will be operative for six months, or extended following review, until the next director is appointed.

With regard to selecting a new director of the laboratory, the chair of the Search Committee has been identified and the full committee is being convened.  The international search will be launched by August 1.

This is fascinating and it’s nice to have a name for the new ‘head poobah’  although they’ve decided to restructure in a rather **unexpected and dramatic fashion with the decision to appoint a temporary Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, not a director as was Lockyer. Plus they seem to have changed the organization’s name in **the news release, TRIUMF Accelerators, Inc., as opposed to TRIUMF; Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. Oddly, the name change is not reflected on the website as of July 18, 2013 11:45 PDT nor is it officially announced in the news release.

I did speculate as to some of the issues that might arise when a leader departs in a June 21, 2013 posting where I used Tim Meyer (Head, Strategic Planning & Communications) as an example and described some of the issues that might arise regardless of whom is chosen from an internal pool for an interim position but I never anticipated this dramatic shift to a structure that mimics a corporation rather than a scientific enterprise. (It seems to me their appointee, Jim Hanlon, heads the Business & Administration Division and is Secretary to the Board of Management is in the unenviable position of not having much authority, other than signing authority,  in a situation where he carries a lot of responsibility.)

Assuming that this is a permanent change in structure, they will be searching for a president and CEO not a director which along with the name change suggests that the emphasis will be on business qualifications as much as, or perhaps more so, than on research qualifications. *Coincidentally or not, the new, as of July 15, 2013, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Gary Rickford has an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) in addition to his nursing qualifications and legal degree. I covered this latest cabinet shuffle and the change to the junior ministry (Sci & Tech) and its parent ministry, Industry Canada, in my July 17, 2012 posting.)

Given the Canadian federal government’s appetite for commodifying scientific research and imposing business models on the research community, this seems like a smart and strategic move on TRIUMF’s part. (For an example of the Harper government’s appetite, I wrote about Canada’s National Research Council and its change to a business-oriented focus in my May 13, 2012 posting and May 22, 2013 posting.)

I note this change to a corporate name and structure comes from within the science community and is not being imposed by the government. It seems that as scientists see how the wind is blowing they will turn direction. Of course, that’s pretty standard behaviour in any sector. What makes this situation at TRIUMF particularly interesting is the implication for the future as young scientists are likely to increasingly adopt business attitudes to their work. Since business is primarily about making money and the last time we encouraged youth to pursue money at all costs we ended up with at least two economic meltdowns and a generation of investment bankers, we are likely to run short (again) of critically needed skills in areas that **don’t promise ‘a fast buck’.

Finally, here’s my bit about a unique job sharing plan between TRIUMF (issued prior to the name change?) and a laboratory in Japan. From a July 11, 2013 TRIUMF news release,

In an unusual alliance between TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics, and the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) in Japan, a long-term joint research position has been created in order to recruit, develop, and
support a world-leading scientist in two countries.  The catch?  After working for the first four years with 75% of his time in Japan and 25% in Canada, the candidate will choose which laboratory’s long-term job offer to accept. American physicist Dr. Mark Hartz has been selected for this
high-stakes competition and in five years will be choosing his long-term home in Tokyo or Vancouver.

From either side of the Pacific Ocean, there will continue to be a great demand for Hartz. He has been appointed as assistant professor and is expected to carry out the full range of duties of a grant tenure track research scientist at both Kavli IPMU and TRIUMF. Additionally, he will serve on internal committees and represent both institutes at the national and international level. His cross-cultural and cross-laboratory experiences will be a great benefit for both Kavli IPMU and TRIUMF.

Dr. Nigel S. Lockyer, director of TRIUMF, acknowledged the rarity and significance of Hartz’s role. Lockyer said, “We need more competitive, cross-border positions like this to enrich and strengthen top talent. I’m delighted that Japan agrees that Hartz is worth fighting for, and yet I’m confident that in the long term Canada is the right place for him and his world-class research ambitions.”

Dr. Hitoshi Murayama, director of Kavli IPMU, said, “Mark is a tremendous addition to our team and will help expand our institutional role in the Japanese flagship T2K neutrino experiment. Once he comes to Kavli IPMU and sees our fantastic environment with interdisciplinary interactions with
astronomers and mathematicians, I have no doubt that he will settle down here.  We already have a great track record of keeping our non-Japanese scientists happy and productive.”

In recent years, Hartz experienced the enormous benefits of global collaboration through research at the Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) neutrino experiment-an international investigation into the behaviour of neutrinos as they travel from one location to another, where he led national efforts to develop beamline monitors and analysis specific to the experiment. With his advanced technical and engineering background, Hartz is an ideal candidate for this cross-laboratory role. He will continue to focus his tenure on the T2K collaboration and is expected to build a strong T2K experimental group at Kavli IPMU.

“The T2K experiment is a textbook example of scientists working across borders to drive new discoveries and pursue the best science,” said Hartz. “This joint position is a brilliant opportunity to work with research communities and give momentum to those interactions.  Although national
borders are invisible to the scientist in me, I am curious to see where I’ll end up in five years!”

As a post-doctoral fellow at both York University and the University of Toronto, Hartz gained extensive experience with the T2K Optical Transition detector and led both the beam analysis and Near Detector to Far Detector Extrapolation analysis groups. He completed detailed predictions of neutrino beam properties prior to the neutrino changing its form in a phenomenon called “neutrino oscillation”. Additionally, Hartz developed sophisticated analysis tools to constrain the neutrino beam flux-an important element for analyzing the oscillations of neutrinos.

Other than being confused as to whether Hartz is making his choice of laboratory and country after four years or five, I do find this to be an innovative approach to recruiting researchers and I see advantages for both the researchers and the labs. I am curious as to why it’s a 75%/25% split in favour of the Kavli Institute (PMU) in Japan. Does it have something to do with initiating this unique opportunity? O perhaps since the researcher is Canadian and more time is needed in Japan so he might acclimate and make a more informed decision?

Regardless, bravo to both the Kavli Institute (PMU) and TRIUMF for taking a bold approach to attracting exciting researchers to their respective institutions.

* Opening paranthesis removed on July 19, 2013.

** ‘and’ removed, ‘the’ added’, and ‘didn’t’ changed to ‘don’t’ on Aug. 1, 2013

Mysteries of the quantum universe; a July 12, 2013 public talk at Vancouver’s (Canada) Science World

Happy Canada Day! I think today’s only posting will be this one about an upcoming public event in Vancouver, from the June 28, 2013 announcement from TRIUMF; Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics,

“Mysteries of the Quantum Universe”
Public lecture Friday July 12, 7pm, TELUS World of Science
 
(Vancouver, BC)  Join Science World and TRIUMF in welcoming Dr Hitoshi Murayama for a free physics lecture at TELUS World of Science on Friday, July 12. Dr Murayama will be speaking about neutrinos, anti-matter and dark matter as part of the “Unveiling the Universe” lecture series presented by TRIUMF and Science World.
Dr Murayama is well-known for his enthusiastic lectures for student and general audience.
About Hitoshi Murayama:
Dr Murayama lives to solve nature’s elemental puzzles like eccentric particles, dark matter and why our universe is expanding so swiftly. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from University of Tokyo in 1991. Dr Murayama became a senior staff member at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the MacAdams Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2007, Dr Murayama was named the founding director of the University of Tokyo’s Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe. The institute’s goal is to use the synergistic perspectives of mathematics, astronomy and theoretical and experimental physics to reveal how the cosmos was formed, how it runs and why we exist.
Doors open at 6:15pm and the presentation starts at 7pm. Q&A session to follow. Tickets are free, but online registration is required. See:
 
Note that a livestream of the lecture (Silverlight plugin required) will be available online for any who are interested and are unable to make it to the event in person. (See registration site for lifestream link)

As far as I can tell, there are still seats as of July 1, 2013 9 am PDT. Oddly, this event is not mentioned on the Science World homepage or elsewhere nor does it seem to be mentioned on the TRIUMF website..

TRIUMF looks for new Director as Nigel S. Lockyer exits for the Fermilab (US)

The circumstances around Nigel S. Lockyer’s departure as Director of Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics, TRIUMF,  are very interesting. Just weeks ago, TRIUMF announced a major innovation for producing medical isotopes (my June 9, 2013 posting), which should have an enormous impact on cities around the world and their access to medical isotopes. (Briefly, cities with cyclotrons could produce, using the technology developed by TRIUMF,  their own medical isotopes without using material from nuclear reactors.)

Also in the recent past, Canada’s much storied McGill University joined the TRIUMF consortium (I’m surprized it took this long), from the May 10, 2013 news release,

At its recent Board of Management meeting, TRIUMF approved McGill University as an associate member of the consortium of universities that owns and operates Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. McGill joins 17 other Canadian universities in leading TRIUMF.

Paul Young, Chair of the Board and Vice President for Research at the University of Toronto, said, “The addition of McGill to the TRIUMF family is a great step forward. McGill brings world-class scientists and students to TRIUMF and TRIUMF brings world-leading research tools and partnerships to McGill.”

The university’s closer association with TRIUMF will allow it to participate in discussions about setting the direction of the laboratory as well provide enhanced partnerships for new research infrastructure that strengthens efforts on McGill’s campuses. Dr. Rose Goldstein, McGill Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), said, “We are delighted to formalize our long-standing involvement in TRIUMF. It is an important bridge to international research opportunities at CERN and elsewhere. Associate membership in TRIUMF will also help McGill advance its Strategic Research Plan, especially in the priority area of exploring the natural environment, space, and the universe.”

McGill University has been involved in TRIUMF-led activities for several decades, most notably as part of the Higgs-hunting efforts at CERN. TRIUMF constructed parts of the Large Hadron Collider that ultimately produced Higgs bosons. The co-discovery was made by the ATLAS experiment for which TRIUMF led Canadian construction of several major components, and McGill played a key role in the development of the experiment’s trigger system. McGill and TRIUMF have also worked together on particle-physics projects in Japan and the U.S.

Professor Charles Gale, chair of the Department of Physics, played a key role in formalizing the relationship between TRIUMF and McGill. He said, “Our department is one of the top in North America in research, teaching, and service. Undoubtedly our work with TRIUMF has helped contribute to that and I expect both institutions to blossom even further.” Professor of physics and Canadian Research Chair in Particle Physics Brigitte Vachon added, “TRIUMF provides key resources to my students and me that make our research at CERN possible; the discovery of the Higgs boson is a perfect example of what such collaboration can achieve.”

Nigel S. Lockyer, director of TRIUMF, commented, “The addition of McGill to the TRIUMF team is welcome and long overdue. We have been working together for decades in subatomic physics and this acknowledgment of the partnership enhances both institutions and builds stronger ties in areas such as materials science and nuclear medicine.”

A scant month after McGill joins the consortium and weeks after a major announcement about medical isotopes, Lockyer announces his departure for the Fermilabs in the US, from the May 20, 2013 TRIUMF news release,

In his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fermi Research Alliance, LLC, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer today announced that TRIUMF’s director Nigel S. Lockyer has been selected to become the next director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located outside Chicago.  Lockyer is expected to complete his work at TRIUMF this summer and begin at Fermilab in the autumn.

Paul Young, Chair of TRIUMF’s Board of Management and Vice President of Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto said, “Nigel was selected from a truly outstanding set of international candidates for this challenging and important position.  Although it will be a short-term loss, this development is a clear recognition of Nigel’s vision and passion for science and the international leadership taken by TRIUMF and Canada in subatomic physics.  On behalf of the entire TRIUMF Board, we wish Nigel, TRIUMF, and Fermilab every success in the future.”

Lockyer set TRIUMF upon a new course when he arrived six years ago, focusing the team on “Advancing isotopes for science and medicine.”  Based on TRIUMF’s existing infrastructure and talent, this initiative ranged from expanding the nuclear-medicine program so that it is now playing a leading role in resolving the medical-isotope crisis to the formulation and funding of a new flagship facility called ARIEL that will double TRIUMF’s capabilities for producing exotic isotopes used in science and for developing tomorrow’s medical isotopes.  At the heart of ARIEL is a next-generation electron accelerator using modern superconducting radio-frequency technology.

Commenting on Nigel’s leadership of TRIUMF, Paul Young added, “One look at TRIUMF’s current trajectory and you can see that this is a man of great ambition and talent.  Working with the Board and a great team at the lab, he propelled TRIUMF to new heights.  We have all been fortunate at TRIUMF to have Nigel as a colleague and leader.”

Reflecting on his time at TRIUMF and the upcoming transition to Fermilab, Nigel Lockyer said, “Knowing that TRIUMF is in good hands with a superb leadership team and seeing its growing string of accomplishments has helped make this decision a tiny bit easier.  The laboratory’s future is secure and TRIUMF knows exactly what it is doing.  I am proud to have contributed to TRIUMF’s successes and it is my hope to ignite the same energy and enthusiasm in the U.S. by heading the team at Fermilab.”  He added, “I also expect to foster a new level of partnership between the U.S. and Canada in these key areas of science and technology.”

“Nigel has had a profound impact on TRIUMF,” said David B. MacFarlane, chair of the National Research Council’s Advisory Committee on TRIUMF and Associate Laboratory Director at the U.S. SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  “He articulated an ambitious new vision for the laboratory and energetically set it upon a path toward an exciting world-class program in rare-isotope beams and subatomic-physics research.  When ARIEL comes online, the lab will be fulfilling the vision that Nigel and his team boldly initiated.”  David MacFarlane added, “The TRIUMF community will certainly miss his warmth, his insatiable scientific curiosity, his creativity, and his faith in the laboratory and its entire staff.  However, I fully expect these same characteristics will serve Nigel well in his new leadership role as Fermilab director.”

As per standard practice, the TRIUMF Board of Management will announce plans and timelines for the international search process and interim leadership within the next few weeks.

Before speculating on the search process and interim leadership appointment, I have a comment of sorts about the Fermilab, which was last mentioned here in my Feb. 1, 2012 posting where I excerpted this interesting comment from a news release,

From the Feb. 1, 2012 news release on EurekAlert,

In this month’s Physics World, reviews and careers editor, Margaret Harris, visits the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) to explore what future projects are in the pipeline now that the Tevatron particle accelerator has closed for good.

After 28 years of ground-breaking discoveries, the Tevatron accelerator has finally surrendered to the mighty Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN [European Laboratory for Particle Physics], placing Fermilab, in some people’s mind, on the brink of disappearing into obscurity. [emphasis mine]

It seems the Fermilab is in eclipse and Lockyer is going there to engineer a turnaround. It makes one wonder what the conditions were when he arrived at TRIUMF six years ago (2006?). Leading on from that thought, the forthcoming decisions as to whom will be the interim Director and/or the next Director should be intriguing.

Usually an interim position is filled by a current staff member, which can lead to some fraught moments amongst internal competitors.  That action, however fascinating, does not tend to become fodder for public consumption.

Frankly, I’m more interested in the board’s perspective. What happens if they pick an internal candidate while they prepare for the next stage when they’re conducting their international search? Based on absolutely no inside information whatsoever, I’m guessing that Tim Meyer, Head, Strategic Planning & Communications for TRIUMF, would be a viable internal candidate for interim director.

From a purely speculative position, let’s assume he makes a successful play to become the interim Director. At this point, the board will have to consider what direction is the right one for TRIUMF while weighing up the various candidates for the permanent position.  Assuming the interim Director is ambitious and wants to become the permanent Director, the dynamics could get very interesting indeed.

From the board’s perspective, you want the best candidate and you want to keep your staff. In Canada, there’s one TRIUMF; there are no other comparable institutions in the country.  Should an internal candidate such as Meyer get the interim position but not the permanent one (assuming he’d want to be the permanent Director) he would have very few options in Canada.

Based on this speculation, I can safety predict some very interesting times ahead for TRIUMF and its board. In the meantime, I wish Lockyer all the best as he moves back to the US to lead the Fermilab.

Dazzling possibilities for creating medical isotopes

The possibility medical isotopes could be produced with cyclotrons  is dazzling, especially in light of the reports a few years ago when it was discovered that the Chalk River facility (Ontario, Canada), the source for one 1/3 of the world’s medical isotopes, was badly deteriorated (my July 2, 2010 posting). Today, Sunday, June 9, 2013, TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, and its partners announced that they have devised a technique for producing medical isotopes that is not dependent on materials from nuclear reactors. From the June 9, 2013 TRIUMF news release,

With Canadian-developed tools and technology, a national team led by TRIUMF has reached a crucial milestone at the BC Cancer Agency in developing and deploying alternatives for supplying key medical isotopes. The team used a medical cyclotron that was designed and manufactured by Advanced Cyclotron Systems, Inc. (ACSI) of Richmond, BC, and successfully achieved large-scale production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), sufficient for a metropolitan area.

The team announced the successful ramp-up of its technology to regularly produce enough of the critical Tc-99m isotope to supply an urban area the size of Vancouver. This achievement eliminates the need for nuclear reactors to produce isotopes, especially those that use weaponsgrade uranium, which has been the traditional approach.

Of course, the metropolitan area will need its own cyclotron and the technology has yet to be proven in an industrial-grade production facility. The news release goes on to explain the situation with medical isotopes,

Each year, tens of millions of medical procedures are conducted around the world with Tc-99m, an isotope used in radiopharmaceuticals for imaging disease in the heart, bones, and elsewhere in the body. Two aging nuclear reactors produce about three quarters of the global supply; one of them is the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. In the past few years, both reactors have suffered maintenance and repair outages, threatening the global supply of medical isotopes.

Here are some more technical details about the project,

“The approach taken by our consortium has established the feasibility of producing appreciable quantities of Tc-99m on Canada’s existing cyclotron network. These same machines are also producing additional isotopes used in a growing number of alternative imaging procedures. The net effect is that Canada will remain on the forefront of medical-isotope technology for the
foreseeable future,” said John Valliant, Scientific Director and CEO of the CPDC in Hamilton.

In February 2012, the TRIUMF-led team demonstrated that the production of Tc-99m was possible on existing medical cyclotrons based in BC and Ontario. After a year of scaling up performance and making engineering improvements to target fabrication, control, and purification procedures, the team has achieved its next milestone: the production of enough Tc-99m in a six hour overnight shift at the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Centre to supply the demands of a metropolitan area (roughly equivalent to 10 Curies). The next milestones for TRIUMF and its partners include engineering optimization and regulatory approval.

As for the future (from the news releases),

Commenting on the path forward, TRIUMF’s director Nigel Lockyer said, “Having cleared this technical hurdle, we are well on our way to assembling the right team to make a competitive proposal to join the BC supply chain for medical isotopes such as technetium-99m. I look forward to working with existing and new partners, including ACSI, in making this possible.”

For those who are curious about the partners,

About TRIUMF

TRIUMF is Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. Together with its partner AAPS, Inc., TRIUMF also seeks to commercialize its technologies for the benefit of all Canadians. Located on the south campus of the University of British Columbia, TRIUMF receives operating support from the Government of Canada through a contribution agreement via National Research Council Canada; the Government of British Columbia provides capital for new buildings. TRIUMF is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of the following Canadian universities: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of Manitoba, McGill University, McMaster University, Université de Montréal, University of Northern British Columbia, Queen’s University, University of Regina, Saint Mary’s University, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Winnipeg, and York University. For more information, please visit us at http://www.triumf.ca.

About ACSI

In 2003, Ebco Industries—using technology licensed from world-renowned subatomic-physics research centre, TRIUMF—founded ACSI with a goal to revolutionize cyclotron design. Since then, ACSI has specialized in producing advanced cyclotrons that can meet the world’s growing isotope needs. As part of the Government of Canada’s Isotope Technology Acceleration Program (ITAP), ACSI is a member of a consortium funded alongside the TRIUMF team to develop viable alternatives to nuclear reactor-produced medical isotopes. For more information, please visit us at http://www.advancedcyclotron.com.

About the BC Cancer Agency

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. The BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support research and enhancements to patient care at the BC Cancer Agency.

About the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization

The Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC) discovers, develops and distributes molecular imaging probes for the early diagnosis of diseases and to assess the effectiveness of treatments. An important part of Ontario’s health system, CPDC provides a reliable, daily supply of imaging probes to hospitals across the province. CPDC also works collaboratively with industry and academic partners, offering the research, manufacturing and regulatory expertise needed to move innovative probe technology and new therapeutic drugs from R&D labs to clinical use. CPDC, located on the McMaster University Campus, is a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence Program. It is supported by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, GE Healthcare, Cancer
Care Ontario, and McMaster University.

About Lawson Health Research Institute

Lawson Health Research Institute, located in London, Ontario, is one of Canada’s largest and most respected hospital-based research institutes. As the research arm of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, and working in partnership with The University of Western Ontario, Lawson is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world. Its state-of-the-art, 6,000 sq. ft. Cyclotron & PET Radiochemistry Facility opened on March 31, 2010 and includes a GE PETtrace 880 cyclotron with proton and deuteron acceleration capability, class 100 shielded hot cells, and automated chemistry units for producing F-18 and C-11 radiopharmaceuticals – all to GMP specifications.

Exciting stuff!

Vancouver’s (Canada) Café Scientifique; an origins story on May 28, 2013

Returning to  the back room at The Railway Club (2nd floor of 579 Dunsmuir St. [at Seymour St.], Vancouver, Canada), the next Café Scientifique Vancouver talk will be given by Lars Martin on Tuesday, May 28,  2013 at 7:30 pm. Here’s the talk description, from the announcement,

Nuclear Astrophysics at TRIUMF

Nuclear Astrophysics is the field of science that tries to explain the natural origin of all chemical elements. [emphasis mine] Scenarios that are studied in this field include the Big Bang, the life cycle of a regular star like our sun and cataclysmic events like supernovae. One key ingredient for this endeavour is the experimental study of nuclear reactions in accelerator labs like TRIUMF.

In his presentation Lars Martin will give an introduction into the field of nuclear astrophysics and describe some of the experiments he was involved with as a PhD student at TRIUMF.

That’s all I’ve got.

Three Canadian subatomic physics powerhouses invite graduate students to apply for summer 2013 TRISEP in Vancouver (Canada)

It’s not the first time I’ve been puzzled by a TRIUMF (Canada’s National Particle and Nuclear Physics Laboratory) news release but now I have to break my silence: please, please hire me or someone else or anyone else to help you write these things. Putting the reason (or call to action) for the news release in its last line at the very end is not good practice.

Particle physics graduate students from anywhere in the world are invited to apply for an opportunity to attend the Tri-Institute Summer School on Elementary Particles (TRISEP) sponsored by Canada’s big three subatomic physics research institutions, TRIUMF, Perimeter Institute (PI), and SNOLAB.

From TRIUMF’s Apr. 12, 2013 news release,

… master the pioneering topics of collider physics, neutrino physics, dark matter, Monte-Carlo simulation, and physics beyond the Standard Model.

The new international summer school is convened by Canada’s three subatomic physics powerhouses: TRIUMF in experimental particle physics, Perimeter Institute in theoretical physics, and SNOLAB in deep underground physics. Taken together, these three institutions not only give Canada a competitive advantage on the world stage, but they also give international students an opportunity to learn about and then pursue the hottest science topics with
some of the leaders.

One of the incentives for attending, according to the news release, is this,

A recent independent analysis by the Council of Canadian Academies showed that Canada is one of the world’s top six national performers in terms of physics and astronomy (driven by particle and nuclear physics) as measured by bibliometric analysis and surveys of international scientists.

I’m not quite as impressed by that assessment as the folks at the ‘big three’ since there are problems with bibliometric analysis in general which I noted in part of two of my commentary on the report (The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012 report—examined (part 2: the rest of the report).

I find this bit from the TRISEP home page (Note: Some links have been removed) a little more exciting,

TRISEP will feature lectures by leading experts in the field of particle physics and is designed to be very interactive with ample time for questions, discussions and interaction with the speakers. Students will also have the opportunity to present a poster describing their research topic. The summer school can also be taken for graduate course credit, more details are available here

The key note speaker will be Hitoshi Murayama, UC Berkeley/Kavli IPMU

Lecturers at the summer school include:
Richard Baartman, TRIUMF
André de Gouvêa, NorthWestern University
Ashutosh Kotwal, Duke University
Heather Logan, Carleton University
Tsuyoshi Nakaya, Kyoto University
Scott Oser, University of British Columbia
Torbjörn Sjöstrand, Lund University
Tim Tait, University of California, Irvine
Viktor Zacek, Université de Montréal

The deadline for applications as listed on the TRISEP home is Friday, June 1, 2013, which is a little confusing since June 1, 2013 is on a Saturday. Presumably you should have your application submitted by Friday, May 31, 2013.

Inside story on doping; build it and they will collide; and physicist, feminist, and philosopher superstar Evelyn Fox Keller visits

Here are a few events being held in Vancouver (Canada) over the next weeks and months. This is not an exhaustive list (three events) but it certainly offers a wide range of topics.

Inside story on doping

First, Café Scientifique will be holding a meeting on the subject of doping and athletic pursuits at The Railway Club on the 2nd floor of 579 Dunsmuir St. (at Seymour St.) next Tuesday,

Our next café will happen on Tuesday January 29th, 7:30pm at The Railway Club. Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Jim Rupert.[School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia]

The title and abstract for his café is:

The use of genetics in doping and in doping control

Sports performance is an outcome of the complex interactions between an athlete’s genes and the environment(s) in which he or she develops and competes.  As more is learned about the contribution of genetics to athletic ability, concerns have been raised that unscrupulous athletes will attempt manipulate their DNA in an attempt to get an ‘edge‘ over the competition. The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has invested research funds to evaluate this possibility and to support studies into methods to detect so-called “gene doping”.  Superimposed on these concerns is the realisation that, in addition to contributing to performance, an athlete’s genes may influence the results of current doping-control tests. Natural genetic variation is an issue that anti-doping authorities must address as more is learned about the interaction between genotype and the responses to prohibited practices. To help differentiate between naturally occurring deviations in blood and urine ‘markers’ and those potentially caused by doping, the ‘biological-passport’ program uses intra-individual variability rather than population values to establish an athlete’s parameters.  The next step in ‘personalised’ doping-control may be the inclusion of genetic data; however, while this may benefit ‘clean’ athletes, it will do so at the expense of risks to privacy.  In my talk, I will describe some examples of the intersection of genetics and doping-control, and discuss how genetic technology might be used to both enhance physical performance as well as to detect athletes attempting to do so.

This is a timely topic  given hugely lauded Lance Armstrong’s recent confession that he was doping when he won his multiple cycling awards. From the Lance Armstrong essay on Wikipedia (Note: Footnotes and links have been removed),

Lance Edward Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson, September 18, 1971) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. Armstrong was awarded victory in the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005, but in 2012 he was disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs, and he was banned from professional cycling for life. Armstrong did not appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Armstrong confessed to doping in a television interview in January 2013, two-and-a-half months after the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sport’s governing body, announced its decision to accept USADA’s findings regarding him, and after he had consistently denied it throughout his career.

Build it and they will collide

Next, both TRIUMF (Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics) and ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada) have sent Jan. 23, 2013 news releases concerning Dr. Lyn Evans and his talk about building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (European Particle Physics Laboratory) which led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. The talk will be held at 6:30 pm on Feb. 20, 2013 at Telus World of Science, 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver,

Fundamental Physics Prize winner to deliver public lecture Wed. Feb. 20 at Science World

Back to the Big Bang – From the LHC to the Higgs, and Beyond
Unveiling the Universe Lecture Series
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 6:30 PM (PST)
Vancouver, British Columbia

(Vancouver, B.C.)  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is history’s most powerful atom smasher, capable of recreating the conditions that existed less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. The construction of the LHC was a massive engineering challenge that spanned almost 15 years, yielding the most technologically sophisticated instrument mankind ever has created.

Join Science World and TRIUMF in welcoming Dr. Lyn Evans, project leader for the LHC construction, in his Milner Foundation Special Fundamental Physics Prize lecture. In this free event, Dr Evans will detail some of the design features and technical challenges that make the LHC such an awe-inspiring scientific instrument. He will also discuss recent results from the LHC and touch on what’s next in the world of high-energy physics. The lecture will be followed by an audience question and answer session.

Dr Evans, born in Wales in 1945, has spent his whole career in the field of high energy physics and particle accelerators. In 2012, he was awarded the Special Fundamental Physics Prize for his contribution to the discovery of the Higgs-like boson. See http://www.fundamentalphysicsprize.org

Tickets are free, but registration is required.

See  http://fpplecture.eventbrite.ca

Physicist, feminist, philosopher superstar Evelyn Fox Keller

Here’s the information available from the Situating Science Cluster Winter 2013 newsletter,

The UBC [University of British Columbia] Node and partners are pleased to welcome Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller as Cluster Visiting Scholar Th. April 4th. The Node and partners continue to support the UBC STS [University of British Columbia Science and Technology Studies] colloquium.

There is more information Fox Keller and the first talk she gave to kick off this Canadawide tour in an Oct. 29, 2012 posting. She will be visiting the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary (Alberta) just prior to the April 4, 2013 visit to Vancouver. There are no further details about Fox Keller’s upcoming visit either on the Situating Science website or on the UBC website.