Ludlam Named Physics Department Chair
By Diane Greenberg
Thomas Ludlam has been named Chair of the Physics Department at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, effective September 1. He succeeds Sally Dawson, who had served in the position for two years.
Brookhaven's Physics Department has a staff of 275 and an annual budget of about $80 million for nuclear and particle physics research, primarily funded by DOE. The department's research focuses on investigating the structure and behavior of subatomic particles.
"It is an honor for me to have been chosen for this position," Ludlam said. "Having done my earliest research at Brookhaven, I've had many role models here. Since its inception 60 years ago, this department has been in the thick of a remarkable era of scientific discovery. We have a history of attracting world-leaders in physics, and I plan to maintain that standard of excellence for the department."
Ludlam has played a major role in the development of Brookhaven's largest accelerator, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), from its design stage starting in the early 1980s to its detectors and research programs. In 2005, RHIC physicists discovered a "perfect" liquid, a new state of matter made from quarks and gluons that they believe existed one-millionth of a second after the Big Bang. Plans are currently under way for a major upgrade of the accelerator, called RHIC II, to provide a ten-fold increase in its scientific reach.
Besides working on physics theory and experiments at the Laboratory, Brookhaven physicists are involved in numerous, diverse projects around the world, according to Ludlam. They have played a major role in building the ATLAS detector for the Large Hadron Collider, soon to be the world's most powerful particle accelerator, at the CERN laboratory, near Geneva, Switzerland, and they will participate in experiments at the new collider upon its completion, scheduled for 2008.
In addition, a team of Brookhaven physicists is engaged in one of the most advanced experiments to study the properties of neutrinos, elusive particles of fundamental importance to understanding subatomic structure, in an international effort using a cluster of nuclear power generators at Daya Bay, China. They also plan to continue their participation in neutrino research at the Homestake Mine in South Dakota, where Brookhaven scientist Raymond Davis Jr. was the first to detect solar neutrinos, a feat that won him the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics. The mine will be the site of the nation's new Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, some 8,000 feet underground, due to be completed in 2011.
The department also manages Brookhaven's Accelerator Test Facility, where researchers from national labs, universities and industry carry out R&D on advanced technologies for future accelerators.
"In carrying out this forefront science," Ludlam said, "one of our goals must be to increase the representation of women and minorities in the department's staff, and to engage our scientists in reaching out to schools and universities to help improve the opportunities for under-represented minorities to become part of the scientific community."
Thomas Ludlam earned a B.S. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1963, and a Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1969. He began his career as a physics instructor at Yale, eventually becoming an associate professor of physics.
In 1978, he joined Brookhaven as an associate physicist and rose through the ranks to become a senior physicist in 1994. From 1990 to 1999 he served as Associate Project Head for the RHIC Project. In 2004, he became Associate Chair of Nuclear Physics in the Physics Department.
Ludlam has served on several national and international advisory panels, including the DOE/National Science Foundation Nuclear Science Advisory Committee, from 1991-1994. He has been the organizer and convener of numerous conferences, workshops, and scientific and technical reviews related to national accelerator and detector planning.