Berkeley Lab

ATAP’S John Byrd Takes Division Directorship at Argonne

“Moving on to other adventures” after 25 years here, John Byrd, head of the Berkeley Accelerator Controls and Instrumentation (BACI) Center in the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, has been appointed Director of the Accelerator Systems Division at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source.

Byrd has been with ATAP Division and its predecessor, the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division, since earning his doctorate in physics from Cornell University in 1991. He was named as head of the Center for Beam Physics in 2011 and was the founding director of BACI.

“I have been so fortunate over the past quarter century at Berkeley Lab to learn from and work with many of the best accelerator folks in the world,” said Byrd. “The culture of innovation, excellence, and collegiality that is integral to Berkeley Lab has been an unforgettable experience for me. I will miss all of my dear friends and colleagues as I move on to other adventures, and I look forward to working with them in future collaborations.”

The adventures will begin immediately, as Argonne is in the midst of detailed design of a major upgrade to the Advanced Photon Source, its flagship synchrotron-light user facility. Its challenges are well suited to Byrd’s background. Just a few recent topics among his diverse scientific interests have included accelerator instrumentation and diagnostics; radiofrequency and microwave systems; synchrotron radiation sources; and femtosecond timing and synchronization.

This is a logical next step in a career that has had a progression of leadership roles as well as scientific distinction,” said ATAP Director Wim Leemans, adding, “John has a remarkable combination of technical and people skills that will serve him and the APS well.”

Byrd has also been dedicated to educating the next generation of accelerator physicists. The U.S. Particle Accelerator School recently gave him their Iron Man Award for having taught 12 courses there. He has mentored graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Berkeley Lab as well.

Byrd succeeds Alexander “Sasha” Zholents, a longtime AFRD researcher who moved to Argonne to assume the Accelerator Systems Division directorship in 2010. Zholents, recently named an Argonne Distinguished Fellow, is returning to full-time research.

A familiar face at the helm of BACI

Leemans has appointed one of Byrd’s longtime colleagues, ATAP physicist Derun Li, to take over BACI.

After undergraduate and graduate education and brief subsequent work at Tsinghua University, Li earned his doctorate in accelerator physics at Indiana University in 1995. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego, he came to LBNL as a staff scientist in 1997.

In 2006 Li was named as LBNL liaison to the US-China Collaboration on Accelerator Physics and Technology, a title he still holds. Since 2014 he has served as program deputy for the Center for Beam Physics, predecessor of BACI. Elected as Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2012, Li is currently a Senior Staff Scientist in ATAP.

Most recently Li led the development team for the design and construction of a radio-frequency quadrupole (RFQ) accelerator, which will serve as the injector for the PIP-II project at Fermilab. The RFQ was noted for its combination of beam intensity and remarkably straightforward commissioning.

Li had previously played a key role on RF technology R&D in the US Muon Accelerator Program (MAP), and the International Muon Ionization Cooling Experiment (MICE) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. These efforts developed enabling technologies for the extremely challenging long-term ambition of a muon collider.

“I am honored to lead a very strong and dynamic group of scientists and engineers in diverse fields,” said Li. The center that he now leads will mainly focus on three areas in the accelerator controls and instrumentation field where Berkeley Lab has traditional strengths: advanced RF design and engineering; ultrahigh-precision controls; and high dynamic range beam instrumentation. R&D on innovative approaches to high-powered ultrafast lasers—of interest for many potential uses, but especially to laser-plasma accelerators such as those of ATAP’s Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center (BELLA)—is another key area.

“Derun’s proven record of seeking out collaborative work and delivering results fits in perfectly with our strategy for BACI,” said Leemans.

“Since our origins as the Exploratory Studies Group and the Center for Beam Physics, we have always contributed to the most advanced accelerator projects in the world,” added Li. He adds, “Now we hope to also look beyond project-specific needs and develop technologies for next generation of accelerator controls and instrumentation that are broadly applicable across the DOE Science Offices and research complex and the scientific world.”