Autumn – a season for renewal

Autumn is not usually thought of as the season for renewal, but in the world of particle physics, this year is different. Around the world, many of CERN’s old friends and colleagues are moving on and making way for new faces.


In China, Chen Hesheng, who has been Director of the nation’s Institute for High Energy Physics since 1998, is taking up a new position, passing the baton to Wang Yifang. In Italy, Roberto Petronzio steps down after seven years at the helm of INFN, handing over the Presidency to Fernando Ferroni. In the UK, John Womersley has been appointed chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, taking over from Keith Mason. And in the USA, Jim Siegrist has been appointed to the leadership of the Department of Energy’s High Energy Physics Office following Denis Kovar’s retirement. Earlier in the year, Victor Matveev was elected to be the next Director of the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, following the untimely passing of Alexei Sissakian last year.

With Drs Wang, Ferroni, Womersley, Siegrist and Matveev, it’s safe to say that high-energy physics will be in good hands. All have an impressive track record in our field. Dr Wang is leader of the BESIII experiment at BEPC, and instigator of the Daya Bay neutrino experiment scheduled to start full data taking next year. Professor Ferroni has a career spanning the continents, with spells at CERN working on neutrino experiments in the 1980s, and then the L3 experiment at LEP.  Dr Womersley has a similar peripatetic career to his credit, beginning as a student on the EMC experiment here at CERN in the 1980s. Dr Siegrist brings a wealth of management experience from his current posting at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to his new job at the DOE. Last but not least, Professor Matveev’s career has ranged widely across our field, and includes the role of Chair of the Board of the Russia and Dubna Member States Collaboration in the CMS experiment at the LHC.

As if five high level changes were not enough, I learned last week that Poland’s newly created National Centre for Nuclear Research, which brings together nuclear and particle physics, has appointed a particle physicist, Professor Grzegorz Wrochna as its first director. And on Tuesday this week, Stanford announced that Persis Drell is standing down as director of SLAC. She will remain in office until a successor is in place.

I look forward to fruitful collaboration with all these newcomers in years to come. But while it’s always good to welcome new faces, I’d like to end by thanking those who’re moving on, and wishing them every success in projects new.


Rolf Heuer