LCLS-II Project Director John Galayda to Receive Wilson Prize

By Glenn Roberts Jr.
October 11, 2012

The success of SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray free-electron laser project, which opened to users in 2009 with plans for expansion already well under way, hasn't gone unnoticed.

John Galayda, who served as LCLS project director and is now directing its sequel, LCLS-II, has been named the 2013 winner of the Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators, awarded by the American Physical Society.

The prize, which honors and encourages "outstanding achievement in the physics of particle accelerators," also recognizes Galayda's work on accelerator systems at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source, where he also participated in the creation of a free-electron laser (FEL), and his prior work at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National Synchrotron Light Source.

The citation that will accompany Galayda's prize, to be awarded during the APS April 2013 meeting in Denver, lauds his "leadership and outstanding and pioneering contributions to the development, construction and commissioning of the LCLS ... and his contributions to the construction of the Advanced Photon Source and the National Synchrotron Light Source."

Just weeks before he learned of the prize, Galayda, who joined SLAC in 2001, accepted another award, the 2012 FEL prize, at the 34th International Free-Electron Laser conference in Nara, Japan, which also honored his achievements at LCLS and at previous sites.

While he said it may "sound redundant" in light of his delight for receiving the annual FEL award, Galayda said of the Wilson Prize: "I can't believe it. It's a dream come true. It's what an accelerator guy wants to achieve."

Scanning previous winners of the Wilson Prize, named for the physicist who led the design and construction of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Galayda said, "The whole list is made up of people whose accomplishments in accelerator research and accelerator building have been an inspiration to me throughout my career."

The list includes John Seeman, deputy director of SLAC's Accelerator Directorate, and FEL pioneer Claudio Pellegrini, who was then at the University of California, Los Angeles, but now works at SLAC.

"The Wilson Prize is the most prestigious in the field of accelerators and particle beam physics," Pellegrini said. "I am grateful to John for what he has done to transform LCLS from a physics concept and initial design to a remarkably good and reliable reality. I was in the control room this morning doing an experiment, and it is amazing to see how well it works."

Seeman said, "John's ability and efforts to specify, optimize, construct and rapidly commission the LCLS are at the highest level. He is well deserving of the Wilson prize. I congratulate him on this outstanding achievement."


Portrait of John Galayda
John Galayda has been selected to receive the Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators. (Photo by Brad Plummer)