Director of Accelerator Directorate Discusses Blogging

By Norbert Holtkamp
May 7, 2012

from CERN Courier

It all started a year ago over dinner with a good bottle of wine in front of us. Steve Gourlay of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Stuart Henderson of Fermilab and myself talked about the future of accelerator R&D in the US and what could be done to promote it.

We had no idea that an opportunity would present itself so quickly, that it would require such fast action or that blogging would be a central part of carrying out our mission.

A 2009 symposium called "Accelerators for America’s Future" had laid out some of the issues and obstacles, and in September 2011 the US Senate Committee on Appropriations asked the US Department of Energy (DOE) to submit a strategic plan for accelerator R&D by June 2012.

The DOE asked me to lead a task force to develop ideas about this important matter: what should the DOE do, over the next 10 years, to streamline the transfer of accelerator R&D so that its benefits could spread out into the larger society?

We were ready to go by October. The task force would have until 1 February 2012 – just four months – to identify research opportunities targeted to applications, estimate their costs and outline the possible impediments to carrying out such a plan. Based on this information, DOE officials would draw up their strategic plan in time for the congressional deadline.

It was a huge job. The 15 members of the task force, who hailed from six DOE national laboratories, industry, universities, DOE headquarters and the National Science Foundation, would need to gather facts, opinions and ideas from a range of people with a stake in this issue – from basic researchers at the national laboratories to university and industry scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, regulators, industry leaders, defence agencies and owners of businesses both small and large.

We quickly held a workshop in Washington, DC, followed by others at the Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, where we presented some of the major ideas. And to gather the most feedback from the most people in the shortest amount of time, I did something that I like to do: I started a blog.

Visit the CERN Courier online for the full column.

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Norbert Holtkamp
Acting Lab Director Norbert Holtkamp. (Photo by Brad Plummer)