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2013 Dr. Nigel Lockyer

Dr. Nigel Lockyer
Director, U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
The Higgs is One Piece of the Mass Puzzle: Toward a New Understanding of the Quantum Universe

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM
1324 East Hall
University of Michigan Central Campus

Lecture Abstract:
The quest to understand mass has spurred more than 50 years of particle physics exploration. Three landmark discoveries over the past two decades have revolutionized our understanding of the universe’s fundamental particles, both validating and uncovering the limitations of the leading theory of particle masses.

The top quark was measured to be inexplicably heavy, with a mass 300,000 times greater than the electron. Neutrinos were found to be surprisingly light – 100 billion times lighter than the top quark – and to morph from one type to another. The long-sought Higgs boson was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012, validating the leading theory of mass that predicts a space-filling Higgs field. This theory, however, does not explain the non-zero masses of neutrinos.

Over the next decade, scientists will continue to study the properties of the Higgs boson and the top quark at the LHC. At Fermilab, near Chicago, neutrino properties will be studied by directing intense particle beams to enormous detectors located hundreds of miles away. This ambitious international program, involving many thousands of scientists, may finally solve the mystery of particle masses.

Speaker Biography:
Dr. Nigel Lockyer, who was recently named as the Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). Dr. Nigel is famous in the physics community for his work on the particle known as the bottom quark for which he was awarded the American Physical Society’s W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in 2006.

Biographical Sketch of Dr. Nigel Lockyer

Nigel Lockyer began his tenure as director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, America's premier laboratory for particle physics research, on September 3, 2013.

An experimental particle physicist, Lockyer was most recently director of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. He was also a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia.

Under his leadership, TRIUMF formulated a vision for ascending the world stage in nuclear physics using rare-isotope beams to address some of the most fundamental questions in science. Lockyer expanded the laboratory’s operations by 25 percent, earning a reputation as a national leader and team-builder. He also developed a strong working partnership among Canada’s major science laboratories and built international collaborations.

Prior to leading TRIUMF, Lockyer was a professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focused on high‐energy particle experiments at the energy frontier, with an interest in testing fundamental symmetries and studying the heaviest quarks. While at Pennsylvania, Lockyer developed his interest in the applications of physics to real-world problems; he worked with the Penn Medical School on proton therapy for cancer and detectors for medical physics.

He has served at Fermilab in a variety of capacities dating back more than 25 years. Lockyer performed research for many years at the Collider Detector at Fermilab experiment at the laboratory’s Tevatron particle accelerator, serving as the experiment’s co-spokesperson from 2002 through 2004. CDF achieved world acclaim for discovering and studying the top quark, one of the fundamental building blocks of nature. He was a Fermilab guest scientist from 2001 to 2005 and a visiting scientist during the summers of 1987 and 1988.

Born in Scotland and raised in Canada, Lockyer received his graduate education in the United States. He earned his B.S. in physics from York University and his Ph.D. in physics from The Ohio State University.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the society’s 2006 Panofsky Prize for his leading research on the bottom quark.