CERN Council looks to bright future

The CERN1 Council, where the representatives of the 20 Member States of the Organization decide on scientific programmes and financial resources, held its 123rd session today under the chairmanship of Professor Maurice Bourquin. The election of the next Director General, the Baseline Plan for 2003-2010 and a new status for non-European states were among the items agreed.

Dr Robert Aymar to be next Director General
Dr Robert Aymar , Director of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), was nominated to succeed Professor Luciano Maiani as CERN's Director General, to take office on 1 January 2004. Dr Aymar, who will serve a five-year term, will oversee the start up of CERN's current major project, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2007. He was previously with the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). He also directed the Tore Supra - one of the world's largest tokamaks, which is based on superconducting toroidal magnets - from its design in 1977 through to its operation in 1988. He is familiar with the challenges presented by the LHC project, as he chaired the External Review Committee set up in December 2001 in response to the increased cost to completion of the LHC. Commenting on his appointment, Dr Aymar said: "I am very honoured by this decision and I thank the Council members for the confidence put in me. CERN is a prestigious institution: I will follow the good examples set by my predecessors and with the help of the CERN staff, collaborators and supporters, I hope to be able to provide the institution with a future as brilliant and successful as it deserves."

Baseline Plan secures LHC's future
Council secured the future of the LHC project by unanimously endorsing the Baseline Plan for 2003-2010. CERN management presented a proposal for revision of the 1996 financial framework for the LHC with completion of the LHC in 2007 as the all-out priority. This new Baseline Plan confirms the target of commissioning the LHC in April 2007. Most of CERN's resources will be committed to the project, leaving only a very limited non-LHC programme. In the Plan, overall cost-to-completion budgets including materials and personnel costs, as well as a contingency, are set for the construction of the LHC and for CERN's share of detector construction. One of the foundations of the Plan is a comprehensive review of CERN's human resources, carried out in 2002. Director General Maiani welcomed Council's approval of the Plan, saying that the dedicated engagement of the whole laboratory in 2002 has resulted in "a focussed programme and a determined laboratory". "Approval", he said, "shows that CERN is back on track."

The LHC is now the main focus of CERN activity as components for the accelerator arrive at the Laboratory from around the world. The detectors for the new machine are on course for completion in 2007, and the first limited version of the global LHC computing GRID will come into operation in July 2003 in preparation for the huge amounts of data that will flow from the new experiments. Professor Maiani said: "CERN is firmly committed to the current schedule".

Scientific highlights of 2002
Looking over the other scientific achievements of the year, Professor Maiani outlined a vibrant programme despite reduced beam time. The year's scientific highlight was the observation of large numbers of antihydrogen atoms by the ATHENA and ATRAP experiments. New low-energy facilities (REX-ISOLDE and nTOF) are being commissioned, and in the high-energy domain three experiments (COMPASS, NA48 and NA60) collected good quality data during 2002. The CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso (CNGS) project remains on course for first beam in May 2006. Turning to accelerator R&D, Professor Maiani pointed to the success of the CLIC project in achieving the high accelerating gradients (150 MV/m) necessary for future machines at the high-energy frontier. He also informed Council of a new initiative launched by the European Committee for Future Accelerators – the European Steering Group for Accelerator R&D (ESGARD). This has been established to coordinate the activity continent-wide, seeking support from the European Union's sixth framework programme. CERN will be a key player.

India granted Observer Status
Council granted Observer Status to India, an active partner of CERN for many years. India has contributed equipment and technical teams to LEP, the PS injector complex and fixed-target experiments. This effort was formalised in a Co-operation Agreement in 1991, extended in 2001 for a further decade. In the framework of the 1996 Protocol signed with the Indian Department of Atomic Energy, India became one of the first non-member states to make significant contributions to the LHC. Indian scientists are also valued members of the ALICE and CMS collaborations, and Indian IT expertise is being put to good use in GRID computing projects through additional protocols signed this year.

New Associate Status for non-European states
Recognising the increasingly global nature of particle physics, and CERN in particular, Council agreed to create an Associate Status for non-European States wishing to make substantial contributions to CERN's activities. Already CERN's scientific users comprise half the world's experimental particle physicists, and nearly a third come from outside the CERN Member States. Associate Status would provide a closer partnership than currently exists. An Associate State would contribute to funding at CERN through an annual contribution, but at a lower level than a Member State to reflect the less extensive rights. These would include participation by right in CERN's activities, attendance at Council, eligibility of nationals of the Associate State for appointments at CERN and entitlement of firms in the Associate State to bid for CERN contracts.

Senior Staff Appointments
Mr Werner Zapf (DE) was appointed as Leader ad interim of the Human Resources Division from 1 May 2003 to 31 December 2003.

Elections
Dr J. Feltesse (FR) was re-elected as Chairman of the Scientific Policy Committee for one year from 1 January 2003.
Professors P. Carlson (SE), K. Rybicki (PL) and J. Stachel (DE) were re-elected as Members of the Scientific Policy Committee for three years as from 1 January 2003.
Professor M. Bourquin (CH) was re-elected as President of Council for one year from 1 January 2003.
Professor R. Sosnowski (PL) was re-elected as a Vice-President of Council for one year from 1 January 2003.
Mrs B. Sode-Mogensen (DK) was re-elected as Chair of the Finance Committee for one year from 1 January 2003.
Dr J. Seed (GB) was re-elected as Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee for one year from 1 January 2003.

 

Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Robert AYMAR

Born in 1936 and of French nationality, Robert Aymar entered the Corps des Poudres (a former government agency involved in basic and applied research) after studying physics at the Ecole Polytechnique.

Following his secondment to the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Agency) in 1959, Aymar's career has focused on fundamental research in plasma physics and its application in controlled thermonuclear fusion research.

In 1977, Aymar was appointed Head of the Tore Supra Project, a superconducting tokamak to be built at Cadarache in the south of France. He directed the Project from its conceptual design in 1977, throughout its construction up to its operation in 1988 when the first plasma was produced. The objectives of Tore Supra are both technological - using superconducting coils cooled at 1.8 K by superfluid helium - and scientific - confining hot, dense plasmas for long pulses towards steady-state operation.

In 1990, Aymar was appointed Head of the Sciences of Matter Directorate of the CEA. In this position, he directed a wide range of basic research programmes - both experimental and theoretical - including astrophysics, particle, nuclear and high-energy physics, physics and chemistry of condensed matter, paleo-climatology, as well as thermonuclear fusion by magnetic confinement.

In his capacity as CEA Director, Aymar served on many Councils and Committees at national level and at international level as a French delegate. Nevertheless, he has maintained a personal role in the fusion programme, acting as chairman of the European Fusion Technology Steering Committee and as a member of the Joint European Torus Scientific Council and of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Technical Advisory Committee. In December 2001, he was appointed chairman of the LHC External Review Committee, mandated to evaluate the LHC project, and presented the results to the CERN Scientific Policy Committee and the Committee of Council in June 2002.

Aymar was appointed Director of ITER by the ITER Council in July 1994, and International Team Leader in July 2001. ITER is an international collaboration which aims to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful purposes.

Footnote(s)

1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and Unesco have observer status.

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