Doe Science news source
The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2018-02-14 08:05:53
  • Article ID: 689446

Meet the Director: Sergei Nagaitsev

Sergei Nagaitsev, director of the Fermilab Accelerator Complex user facility, looks to the future while running the day-to-day duties in support of the Office of Science High Energy Physics program goal - to understand how our universe works at its most fundamental level.

  • Credit: Photo courtesy of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

    Director Sergei Nagaitsev stands in front of an accelerator beamline under construction at the Fermilab Accelerator Complex.

This is a continuing profile series on the directors of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facilities.  These scientists lead a variety of research institutions that provide researchers with the most advanced tools of modern science including accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, light sources and neutron sources, as well as facilities for studying the nano world, the environment, and the atmosphere.

Meet the director:

When Sergei Nagaitsev was promoted to lead Fermilab’s Accelerator Complex, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility, his vision was a place where researchers from this country and the world would want to do their experiments. And they do. In 2017 more than 3,000 scientists from 48 countries including the United States came to the Complex to do research. His part in this work carries two titles: Chief Accelerator Officer and Head of Accelerator Division. “The first title is looking outside of Fermilab – talking to funding agencies and people external to Fermilab and thinking about our future accelerator facilities,” Nagaitsev explains. “A division head is someone who is running a shop” – the day-to-day details. 

Nagaitsev also holds a part-time appointment as professor of physics at the University of Chicago, which means making time for an hour’s drive from Fermilab to the university campus for meetings with fellow professors, post docs, and students. He values these connections and the opportunities to engage with research projects beyond the laboratory. 

The director’s background:

He doesn’t remember a specific moment, but “at maybe age 15, I knew I would be a physicist.” Nagaitsev attended the highly-ranked Novosibirsk University in Russia (at that time, a part of the Soviet Union). His freshman physics professor invited him to work in his lab, an invitation with life-changing impact. “He brought me into accelerator science,” says Nagaitsev. “I am still in touch with this professor; we are big friends and talk on the phone nearly every week. He is a very well-known scientist in Russia. He is such an inspiration to me, 81 years old and still active. We ski together on visits.”  

A second life-changing offer came from America. A visiting lecturer, a physicist from Indiana University (IU), described the research going on at the university’s cyclotron facility in Bloomington, Ind. and invited Nagaitsev to apply to IU’s graduate school.

After receiving his diploma from Novosibirsk University in 1989, Nagaitsev applied for graduate study at IU. “It wasn’t easy. It was not simple. I had to go to Germany [from Russia] and work first,” he recalls. “[But] nothing of consequence is trivial.”

And in one more life-changing event, in 1995 he was invited to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) for a postdoc position. In 2004 he became head of the Recycler Department, was appointed deputy director for the International Linear Collider program in 2005, and Chief Accelerator Officer and Division Head in 2013. 

The Facility:

The Fermilab Accelerator Complex is located in Batavia, Ill. on the campus of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Fermilab’s mission is to understand the fundamental particles that make up our universe and their interactions. At the Accelerator Complex, scientists create and study a spectrum of particles.

“We take ideas for technologies and experiments that have never been done before and convert them into knowledge. We first convert them into data; our researchers from Fermilab and universities and labs around the world go through this data and create knowledge in elementary particle physics. This knowledge is for the benefit of the world—research in particle physics is completely open, published, and available to the public. We also create intellectual property on behalf of the U.S. government,” explains Nagaitsev. “We protect our intellectual property on behalf of taxpayers.”

The Accelerator Complex is composed of five parts that work sequentially: the linear accelerator, booster, recycler, main injector and delivery ring. A low-energy proton beam is accelerated, bunched into packets, and then injected into the linear accelerator. The accelerator brings the beam to higher energy levels. The booster accelerates the beam for experiments or to send to the recycler for even greater acceleration. The recycler is a staging area. The main injector receives beams from the recycler and generates two powerful neutrino beams for experiments.

“We are one of the best particle accelerator facilities. We have strong competition, and the pendulum swings back and forth,” says Nagaitsev. “Our edge right now is in producing neutrinos—we are the only lab to produce neutrino beams at low and high energies, and we have the most powerful high-energy neutrino beam in the world.”

Typical day:

In 2017, the Accelerator Complex had users from 441 institutions – universities, industries, and other laboratories. “Our mission is to conduct elementary particle physics research,” says Nagaitsev. “Our job is to provide facilities and access to beams [of charged particles] for research to international collaborations from around the world.”

Nagaitsev points out the uniqueness of the visiting researchers. “I guess I never call them users; they are colleagues. Maybe the ‘user’ has a special meaning in the DOE lingo, but for me they are peers, colleagues, my fellow scientists who come to Fermilab because of our science of high energy physics, because of the scale of facilities required.”

Particle physicists conceive, design, build, and then run their experiments for years; a typical experiment may last five to 10 years.  “The NOvA experiment – we are now in year three to four; we have some three years to go. Some users drop out, some users are added.”

In addition to his leadership duties, Nagaitsev also makes time to conduct tours. “Fermilab is not the oldest national lab; it was built in 1967 out in the corn field, in the prairie. I think my favorite story about Fermilab has to do with the spirt of the American West. It really has to do with our founding director Bob Wilson being a cowboy at heart; it has to do with us being the pioneers,” says Nagaitsev. “And we have bison too, which helps illustrate the story.

“The facility is one of the most beautiful sites in the DOE national lab complex. I often start my tour at the 15th floor (Wilson Hall)–a really nice view of the lab–and go down to the accelerator facilities.” The campus is unique among the DOE laboratories in that it is open to visitors. The public is welcome to come onsite and take a self-guided tour or use the area for recreation: fishing, jogging, walking dogs during certain hours every day.

To non-scientist guests, “I explain we still do not understand how our universe is made. Here at Fermilab Accelerator Complex we are studying a portion of this puzzle.”

Two current research projects:

The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is an international experiment for neutrino science [SEE “What is a neutrino?”] and proton decay studies hosted by Fermilab. The world’s most intense neutrino beam – to be created at Fermilab – will travel between two detectors: one at Fermilab and the second 800 miles away and deep underground in Lead, South Dakota. Researchers hope to obtain data to answer fundamental questions on the origin of matter, the unification of forces, and black hole formation. 

The NOvA project is studying how neutrinos change types as they travel by sending a beam on a 500-mile-long journey from the lab to a detector in Ash River, Minnesota.  Physicists at NOvA hope to determine the hierarchy of masses of the three different neutrino types.

Best advice for a future director at the Fermilab Accelerator Complex: “Best advice for the next director?” muses Nagaitsev. “Blame your predecessor,” he jokes, then continues. “I think that maintaining a tight connection with users, the relationship between the users and the accelerator scientists is really critical. I would give advice to be very much engaged with the users.”

In Fiscal Year 2017, the Fermilab Accelerator Complex and the other user facilities welcomed more than 34,000 researchers – from academic, industry, and government laboratories in all 50 states and the District of Columbia – to perform new scientific research.  For details on the DOE Office of Science User Facilities, go to https://science.energy.gov/user-facilities/.

Please go to Profiles of User Facilities Directors to read more articles on the directors for the Office of Science user facilities.                                                                                 

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. For more information, please visit https://science.energy.gov.

Sidebar:

What are neutrinos? 

http://www.fnal.gov/pub/science/particle-physics/experiments/neutrinos.html Trillions of neutrinos pass through our bodies each second without leaving a trace. These tiny particles are nearly massless and neutral, rarely interacting with other matter. Neutrinos were first formed in the first second of the universe and are continually being produced in the nuclear reactions of stars and nuclear power plants. In 1930 Wolfgang Pauli predicted that an unknown particle was responsible for the apparent energy loss during radioactive beta decay. Clyde Cowan and Fred Reines set up an experiment in 1956 that detected this then-unknown particle – the neutrino. We now know neutrinos come in three types or ‘flavors’ and morph into each other. This ‘morphing’ happens as the neutrino travels and adds to our detection and observation challenges.  These particles could be key to a deeper understanding of our universe by showing how the universe works at a basic level.

 

X
X
X
  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Squeezing Into the Best Shape

Gel uses nanoparticles for on-demand control of droplet shapes, of interest for energy storage and catalysis.

Forcing the Hand of Elusive Electrons

Current generated when light hits a material reveals electrons behaving like an elusive particle.

Single Atoms in Nano-Cages

Tiny cages can trap and release inert argon gas atoms, allowing their further study and providing a new way to capture rare gases.

Why Polymer Solar Cells Deserve Their Place in the Sun

Organic polymer solar cells show potential to provide solar power to remote microwatt sensors, wearable technology and the Wi-Fi-connected appliances constituting the "internet of things." While PSCs cannot match the durability or efficiency of inorganic solar cells, the potential to mass-produce nontoxic, disposable solar panels using roll-to-roll production makes them attractive for additional applications. In this week's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, researchers review the latest advances and remaining challenges in PSC technology.

Unwavering Juggler with Three Extra Electrons

Simulations discovered the first molecule with three extra electrons and extraordinary stability.

Electric Eel-Inspired Device Reaches 110 Volts

In an effort to create a power source for future implantable technologies, a team of researchers developed an electric eel-inspired device that produced 110 volts from gels filled with water, called hydrogels. Their results show potential for a soft power source to draw on a biological system's chemical energy. Anirvan Guha will present the research during the 62nd Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, Feb. 17-21.

Researchers Demonstrate Promising Method for Improving Quantum Information Processing

A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has demonstrated a new method for splitting light beams into their frequency modes, work that could spur advancements in quantum information processing and distributed quantum computing.

Deep Dive Into How Electrons Behave

Unprecedented characterization of subsurface electronic states could lead to better semiconductors and seeing new interactions.

Higher Income Level Linked to Police Use of Force Against Black Women

Black women with higher incomes are more likely to experience a forceful police interaction during a traffic stop, finds a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis."We found that the likelihood of exposure to each type of police use of force was significantly greater for black females with incomes over $50,000," said Robert Motley Jr.

Bringing a Hidden Superconducting State to Light

Using high-intensity pulses of infrared light, scientists found evidence of superconductivity associated with charge "stripes" in a material above the temperature at which it begins to transmit electricity without resistance--a finding that could help them design better high-temperature superconductors.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

ORNL Wins Four FLC Technology Transfer Awards

Four technologies developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have earned 2018 Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC).

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, OHSU Create Joint Research Co-Laboratory to Advance Precision Medicine

News Release PORTLAND, Ore. -- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and OHSU today announced a joint collaboration to improve patient care by focusing research on highly complex sets of biomedical data, and the tools to interpret them.The OHSU-PNNL Precision Medicine Innovation Co-Laboratory, called PMedIC, will provide a comprehensive ecosystem for scientists to utilize integrated 'omics, data science and imaging technologies in their research in order to advance precision medicine -- an approach to disease treatment that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person.

The Mysteries of Plasma and Solar Eruptions Earn PPPL Graduate an Astrophysics Prize

Article describes dissertation award for graduate of Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences.

45-Year-Old Telescope Gets a Makeover to Demystify Dark Energy

Forty-five years ago this month, a telescope tucked inside a 14-story, 500-ton dome atop a mile-high peak in Arizona took in the night sky for the first time and recorded its observations on glass photographic plates. Today, the dome closes on the previous science chapters of the 4-meter Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope and starts preparing for its new role in creating the largest 3-D map of the universe. This map could help determine why the universe is expanding at faster and faster rates, driven by an unknown force called dark energy.

MSU Uses $3 Million NASA Grant to Find Better Ways to Regulate Dams

Michigan State University researchers, equipped with $3 million from NASA, will investigate innovative methods to improve dams so that they are less harmful to people and the environment.

Harker School Wins Second Consecutive SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl

Twenty-four teams from 16 Bay Area high schools faced off Feb. 3 in the SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl, a series of fast-paced question-and-answer matches that test knowledge in biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space sciences, energy and math. The competition is hosted annually by the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

David Asner Named Deputy Associate Laboratory Director and Head of the Instrumentation Division in Brookhaven Lab's Nuclear and Particle Physics Directorate

A particle physicist with extensive leadership and management experience, Asner will help expand a portfolio of physics programs and oversee instrumentation research and development.

UIC to Provide Energy-Saving 'Kits' with $3.1m in Funding From ComEd

The University of Illinois at Chicago's Energy Resources Center has received funding from ComEd to provide energy-efficient LED light bulbs, advanced power strips, and educational material to income-qualified participants in northern Illinois.As part of a $3.1 million year-long investment, the utility company will fund the Low Income Kit Energy (LIKE) program, allowing engineers at UIC's Energy Resources Center to provide energy-saving kits to 35,000 eligible individuals and/or families.

DOE's HPC4Manufacturing Program Seeks Industry Proposals

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Feb. 1 announced up to $3 million will be made available to U.S. manufacturers for public/private projects aimed at applying high performance computing to industry challenges for the advancement of energy innovation.

Elke-Caroline Aschenauer Awarded Prestigious Humboldt Research Award

UPTON, NY -- Elke-Caroline Aschenauer, a senior physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Award for her contributions to the field of experimental nuclear physics. This prestigious international award--issued by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, Germany--comes with a prize of EUR60,000 (more than $70,000 U.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Squeezing Into the Best Shape

Gel uses nanoparticles for on-demand control of droplet shapes, of interest for energy storage and catalysis.

Forcing the Hand of Elusive Electrons

Current generated when light hits a material reveals electrons behaving like an elusive particle.

Single Atoms in Nano-Cages

Tiny cages can trap and release inert argon gas atoms, allowing their further study and providing a new way to capture rare gases.

Unwavering Juggler with Three Extra Electrons

Simulations discovered the first molecule with three extra electrons and extraordinary stability.

Deep Dive Into How Electrons Behave

Unprecedented characterization of subsurface electronic states could lead to better semiconductors and seeing new interactions.

How Bacteria Produce Manganese Oxide Nanoparticles

Multiple techniques to characterize an enzyme complex shed light on how bacteria create particles and contribute to global cycles.

Meet the Director: Sergei Nagaitsev

This is one in a series of profiles on directors of the SC-stewarded user facilities. This profile features Sergei Nagaitsev, director of the Fermilab Accelerator Complex.

From 100,000 to 8: Representing Complex Aerosol Patterns with Far Fewer Particles

Study shows how aerosols interacting with clouds can be accurately captured by sparse set of representative particles.

Atomic Vibes During Melting?

Where does the heat go when a glass melts into a liquid? Not to changing the vibrations of atoms....

Taking Solar Energy to the Edge

Engineered stacked perovskite layers harvest light or create light via layer edges.


Spotlight

Thursday February 15, 2018, 12:05 PM

Insights on Innovation in Energy, Humanitarian Aid Highlight UVA Darden's Net Impact Week

University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Friday February 09, 2018, 11:05 AM

Ivy League Graduate, Writer and Activist with Dyslexia Visits CSUCI to Reframe the Concept of Learning Disabilities

California State University, Channel Islands

Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

Photographer Adam Nadel Selected as Fermilab's New Artist-in-Residence for 2018

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

Fermilab Computing Partners with Argonne, Local Schools for Hour of Code

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

Wednesday December 20, 2017, 01:05 PM

Q&A: Sam Webb Teaches X-Ray Science from a Remote Classroom

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Monday December 18, 2017, 01:05 PM

The Future of Today's Electric Power Systems

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday December 18, 2017, 12:05 PM

Supporting the Development of Offshore Wind Power Plants

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

Stairway to Science

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

After-School Energy Rush

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday September 07, 2017, 02:05 PM

Students Discuss 'Cosmic Opportunities' at 45th Annual SLAC Summer Institute

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday August 31, 2017, 05:05 PM

Binghamton University Opens $70 Million Smart Energy Building

Binghamton University, State University of New York

Wednesday August 23, 2017, 05:05 PM

Widening Horizons for High Schoolers with Code

Argonne National Laboratory

Saturday May 20, 2017, 12:05 PM

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday May 15, 2017, 01:05 PM

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday November 08, 2016, 12:05 PM

Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday May 13, 2016, 04:05 PM

More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Monday April 25, 2016, 05:05 PM

Giving Back to National Science Bowl

Ames Laboratory

Friday March 25, 2016, 12:05 PM

NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Tuesday February 02, 2016, 10:05 AM

Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Monday November 16, 2015, 04:05 PM

Rare Earths for Life: An 85th Birthday Visit with Mr. Rare Earth

Ames Laboratory

Tuesday October 20, 2015, 01:05 PM

Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

Wednesday March 06, 2013, 03:40 PM

Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday November 16, 2012, 10:00 AM

Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

Wednesday November 23, 2011, 10:45 AM

Don't Get 'Frosted' Over Heating Your Home This Winter

Temple University

Wednesday July 06, 2011, 06:00 PM

New Research Center To Tackle Critical Challenges Related to Aircraft Design, Wind Energy, Smart Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday April 22, 2011, 09:00 AM

First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

Wake Forest University

Friday April 15, 2011, 12:25 PM

Like Superman, American University Will Get Its Energy from the Sun

American University

Thursday February 10, 2011, 05:00 PM

ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

University of Chicago

Tuesday December 07, 2010, 05:00 PM

UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

University of California San Diego

Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

Texas Tech University

Friday May 07, 2010, 04:20 PM

Creighton University to Offer New Alternative Energy Program

Creighton University

Wednesday May 05, 2010, 09:30 AM

National Engineering Program Seeks Subject Matter Experts in Energy

JETS Junior Engineering Technical Society

Wednesday April 21, 2010, 12:30 PM

Students Using Solar Power To Create Sustainable Solutions for Haiti, Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday March 03, 2010, 07:00 PM

Helping Hydrogen: Student Inventor Tackles Challenge of Hydrogen Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday February 04, 2010, 02:00 PM

Turning Exercise into Electricity

Furman University

Thursday November 12, 2009, 12:45 PM

Campus Leaders Showing the Way to a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Tuesday November 03, 2009, 04:20 PM

Furman University Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant for Geothermal Project

Furman University





Showing results

0-4 Of 2215