Making Science Happen

Science that’s changing the world from the heart of Silicon Valley, and the people who are making it happen.



SLAC is an amazing playground... the needs that we have here

give you an opportunity for creativity.

I'm an associate staff scientist.

I'm an engineering physicist.

I'm a staff scientist.


electrical supervisor

I'm a staff scientist.

engineering physicist

health and safety specialist

I'm a scientist.

staff engineer

I'm a research professor.

I'm responsible for sustainability.

I'm a professor of theoretical particle physics.

SLAC is unique because it's a

national lab that's been around for over half a century, smack dab in the heart of

Silicon Valley. It has an environment that is sort of distinctly

entrepreneurial. It's defined by Stanford. It's defined by all the companies around it

--and yet here we are doing science one might say the old fashioned way.

We do stuff that no single company could do.

We measure the universe in ways that people can't.

You know at all these different length scales, and then we share that

information with the world... so they can take that understanding and apply it.

I have to say, the people that work here truly are fabulous!

The science community, they have this thought, this idea

of making whatever amazing thing they want to make.

To get there, they need welders, plumbers, pipe fitters, electricians, painters.

All of us to assemble and build this thing.

So without the wrenches, it isn't going to happen.

We're always kind of pushing boundaries.

We're growing.

Sort of finding ways to go over barriers.

We have the ability to want to do and try to do things.

--and the best part is when

those moments happen and you've got everybody lined up saying,

"Let's do this!"

and then you do it!

So we had a workshop recently and someone said

"I have a problem" and Stephanie and I jumped out of our seats and said..

(--yes, please.)

Can we try? Can we figure out how to do this? And that's I think our selling point

Try something different that other people don't think about.

We have that optimism.

The sun helps, too!

We look at things that are really really small, really fast.

We go from A to Z.

from atoms and electrons with some of the work that they do at

the x-ray facilities and the scattering all the way up to space!

building a camera to measure the night sky...

So I cannot think of a length scale that we don't do here.

SLAC's product is how quickly we can apply the physics that we do here

to deliver something to the outside that changes the world.

whether it's material science,

or related to biological sciences, astrophysics...

looking at different pigments from paints to understand the chemistry

and how it's degrading over time


looking at pores in batteries, my own research.

It keeps you interested, it keeps you on your toes.

Every year there are new students who come in

and then you find new problems which are really exciting.

It's interesting to meet new people,

but it's also interesting to meet their science.

It's our job to provide these facilities to the scientific community.

That's what happens at SLAC,

you have a goal which is extremely ambitious. You try and make it work...

you invent new technologies and then they spin off in directions that

you couldn't anticipate.

The discovery of the transistor, I'm sure none of those

people envisioned the iPhone in my pocket. There are lots of these examples

of basic research changing the way we live.

The other and also very important outcome

is education of people and it ranges from faculty or senior scientists

who have the opportunity to start very new big projects here.

Then it goes to students, PhD students or postdocs

who have the opportunity to conduct

independent research.

So I think all of that is very important and it's not as

visible as publications, but in the end that makes a big impact.

I think the best things from here are looking way further off.

How do you drive the boundary of knowledge forward?

Sometimes you have to wait a little, but then good things happen

if you can understand the world, our lives, the universe better.

Farrin Abbott/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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SLAC is a vibrant multiprogram laboratory that explores how the universe works at the biggest, smallest and fastest scales and invents powerful tools used by scientists around the globe. With research spanning particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, materials, chemistry, bio- and energy sciences and scientific computing, we help solve real-world problems and advance the interests of the nation.

SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

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