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NIU, Fermilab land noted physicist in joint appointment

July 11, 2014
Swapan Chattopadhyay

Swapan Chattopadhyay

Renowned physicist Swapan Chattopadhyay, currently director of the Cockcroft Institute in England, has accepted a joint appointment to Northern Illinois University and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The appointment is effective Sept. 1.

Chattopadhyay has helped break new ground in the fields of accelerator and beam physics, having made significant contributions to the development of accelerators worldwide for particle physics, nuclear physics and materials science.

He will join a dynamic group of leaders in advanced accelerator research and development at NIU and Fermilab.

“Professor Chattopadhyay’s appointment builds upon the strong foundation NIU has developed in particle and accelerator physics education and research, and on our continued collaborations with Fermilab, a national laboratory that for decades has been at the forefront of accelerator research,” NIU President Doug Baker said.

“We believe Dr. Chattopadhyay’s expertise in the areas of beam physics and accelerator technology will help take NIU’s physics program to the next level, placing it among the nation’s elite,” Baker added.

At Fermilab, Chattopadhyay will be a member of the senior accelerator research team, working on a variety of advanced research projects. Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer noted that Chattopadhyay’s expertise would help the laboratory align with the recently released report from the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel.

“Swapan will be a crucial component to Fermilab’s efforts to fulfill its part of the P5 vision for the future of particle physics,” Lockyer said. “We are very excited to see him join our team.”

Chattopadhyay will serve as professor and director of accelerator research at NIU.

“Dr. Chattopadhyay is one of the world’s leading accelerator physicists,” said Lesley Rigg, NIU vice president for research and innovation partnerships. “High energy and accelerator physics have been identified as targeted areas of excellence at NIU, and we intend to continue to focus on these areas while strengthening our ties to Fermilab.”

Fermi National Accelerator Lab

Fermi National Accelerator Lab

Chattopadhyay said he is impressed by NIU’s mission, history of excellence and collaborations with national laboratories.

“NIU serves and educates students from diverse financial, cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds,” Chattopadhyay said.

“At the same time, one cannot fail noticing the highest aspirations of the university in matters of global research excellence. It is evidenced by selected partners of choice, such as Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory, and by faculty members who are engaged in cutting-edge research at CERN and are influencing science and technology policy in the U.S. president’s office. This all speaks volumes about the NIU academic leadership team.”

For the past seven years, Chattopadhyay served as the inaugural director of the Cockcroft Institute, a leading international center for research, design and development of particle accelerators in UK. He also served as the Sir John Douglas Cockcroft Chair of Physics at the universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster.

At the Cockcroft Institute, Chattopadhyay spearheaded efforts to advance accelerators to drive particle, nuclear, synchrotron radiation and neutron sciences.

Prior to his post at the Cockcroft Institute, Chattopadhyay served as the associate director of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA (2001-2007), founder and director of the Center for Beam Physics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (1992-2001) and professor in the Graduate School at the University of California at Berkeley (1984-2001).

CERN logoRolf Heuer, director general of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, noted Chattopadhyay’s contributions to CERN and the UK in the past years.

“Seen from CERN, Professor Chattopadhyay has had considerable impact on accelerator science in the UK during his tenure at the Cockcroft Institute, and has been a key player in cementing the UK accelerator community’s links with CERN,” Heuer said. “I wish him all the best with his new challenges, and look forward to collaboration as he moves back across the pond.”

Professor John Womersley, chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in the UK, also remarked: “STFC has been very fortunate to benefit from Professor Chattopadhyay’s dedication in helping to re-establish a vibrant UK accelerator research program, which is today recognized as one of the leading in the world. I wish him well at Fermilab/NIU and look forward to his involvement in promoting continued strong collaboration between the U.S. and UK in accelerator science and technology.”

Born and educated in Darjeeling and Calcutta, India, Chattopadhyay earned his Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley in 1982. He spent the following two years at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland as a scientific attaché.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Physics (UK) and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. He also has mentored scientists and students from across the world, including Japan, South Korea, China, India and Taiwan.

“I have been immersed in building institutions for the past two decades at Berkeley Lab, Jefferson Lab and the Cockcroft Institute,” Chattopadhyay said. “It is now time to dedicate myself to personal research and serve the scientific community to secure the next high energy and photon facilities.”

Laurence Lurio

Laurence Lurio

Chattopadhyay said he is looking forward to working with scientists and students at both Fermilab and NIU.

“NIU has a visible presence in the field of particle physics via its recognized experimental, theoretical, accelerator and detector research programs,” he said. “With its unique accelerator test facilities and a world-class skills base, Fermilab has the distinction of being the sole institution in the U.S. responsible for the nation’s stewardship of the field of high energy physics in the global context.”

NIU physics chair Laurence Lurio believes Chattopadhyay will make a significant impact on the physics department.

“We know that Dr. Chattopadhyay, in collaboration with faculty at NIU and researchers at Fermi National Laboratory, will raise the national and international status of NIU’s graduate program in accelerator physics,” Lurio said.

“He will be working on the design of the next generation of particle accelerators,” Lurio added. “One of the most exciting research ideas he brings to NIU is the search for ways to make compact accelerators. High energy particle accelerators are typically kilometers long. Professor Chattopadhyay will investigate methods to use ultra-high power electromagnetic fields to make smaller accelerators, paving the way for the next generation of lower-cost and higher-energy machines.”