‘Real-world impact’: Stanford Board of Trustees learns how SLAC can change the future

The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory helps develop technologies and industries that can shape the world’s future and connects fundamental science with real-world impact through its applied tools, SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao told Stanford’s Board of Trustees at the first meeting of the academic year. October 17-18.

Stanford trustees were introduced to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at the first meeting of the academic year. (Photo credit: Olivier Bonin)

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a national research laboratory owned and operated by Stanford for the Department of Energy (DOE). On October 17, trustees visited SLAC, which was celebrating 60 years of science and discovery.

“The Department of Energy and other government agencies are interested in working with Stanford and SLAC to advance these new technologies – from artificial intelligence to synthetic biology – and to bring the best ideas of faculty and students into the labs. can have a bigger impact than we can do on our own,” Cao said.

Trustees also heard from Arun Majumdar, the new dean of Stanford’s Doerr School, which opened Sept. 1 to address pressing climate and sustainability issues.

“The idea of ​​trying new things and experimenting with new things is the business of academia and what we need to do to address that,” Majumdar told the trustees. “All you have to do is innovate, experiment and see what works.”

The panel also heard a report on changing the name of departments within the school – from Geological Sciences to Earth and Planetary Sciences.

President Marc Tessier-Lavin and Provost Persis Drell shared their enthusiasm for the upcoming academic year with the board, providing an update on issues such as fostering civic discourse, research opportunities and advancing the university’s long-term vision.

For example, through the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education (COLLEGE) program, all first-year students are encouraged to think about their role in society and their responsibilities as citizens. Drell told the trustees he was excited to co-teach one of his courses this fall, Why collegewhich explores the meaning and role of a liberal college education.

“This is a foundational skill that is important not only for their years at Stanford, but for their future lives,” Tessier-Lavin said.

Supporting the university’s vision, Drell said priorities under the IDEAL initiative include decentralizing African and African-American studies and creating an institute on race, ethnicity and society.

Stanford also looks forward to helping shape the policy and technology solutions needed to address global climate change through the important work of the Doerr School of Sustainability and its Sustainability Accelerator, which aims to co-develop potentially scalable sustainability technologies and policy solutions with external partners around the world. .

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“With Stanford’s new model for how research universities respond to global change, we are well-positioned to be a leader in helping to advance the public’s understanding of what universities can and should do to address issues of national and global importance,” said Tessier-Lavin. .

“Accelerating Translational Science”

As a living multi-program laboratory, SLAC enables Stanford students and faculty to conduct research and build technologies that help solve the world’s most pressing problems, Cao said during the SLAC presentation.

For example, SLAC is developing an upgrade to its Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). LCLS-II will provide a huge leap in power – moving from 120 pulses per second to 1 million pulses per second – allowing researchers to conduct experiments in a variety of fields not currently possible.

The SLAC Linac will upgrade the Coherent Light Source, providing a major leap in capability and allowing researchers to conduct experiments in a variety of areas not currently possible. (Photo credit: Olivier Bonin)

SLAC also allows researchers to determine the 3D structures of the proteins and RNAs of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-Electron Microscopy Center (S).2C2) to guide the development of antiviral therapy.

SLAC additionally plays a critical role in a broad set of the nation’s High Energy Physics strategic projects, including the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (sCDMS), measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB Phase 4), and construction of the LSST camera. Vera S. in Chile. Rubin Observatory, Cao said.

Trustees toured many of these projects on Monday.

“Together, Stanford and SLAC are accelerating translational science,” said Jennifer Dionne, senior vice provost for research platforms/common facilities and associate professor of materials science and engineering.

The Stanford-SLAC collaboration is driving world-class science and increasing funding for quantum information systems and devices, such as single photon sources and modulators, and photocatalysis for sustainable, high-yield and product-selective chemical production, Dionne said.

He also described how SLAC’s founding work led to the Q-Next Center, a Quantum Information Science Research Center created by the DOE and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and led by Argonne National Laboratory. Q-Next’s mission is to create national quantum foundries; delivery of quantum communications; and demonstrate communication links, sensor networks, and simulation testing. SLAC researchers at the helm of Q-Next include Associate Director Joanne Hewlett and Thrust leader Kent Irwin, who was instrumental in building the National Superconducting Quantum Foundry.

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‘A huge opportunity’

The work of the fledgling Doerr School of Sustainability has really been a team effort involving the Stanford community from the beginning, and that effort continues, Majumdar told the trustees.

Majumdar said he met with every faculty member at the school and learned about the diversity, breadth and depth of its scholarship.

While scholarship is key, there is an urgent need to address food, water and climate issues, Majumdar said, which requires an understanding of the critical role academia can play in government, business, nonprofits and society.

“This is a great opportunity for the Academy to educate and train not only our students, but also wider stakeholders in society about the latest findings in climate science. Major nations and businesses have made climate commitments, but no one knows how to navigate the complex landscape of meeting their climate commitments,” he said. “It’s like a marriage that requires commitment first. The organizations have made a commitment, but the details have yet to be worked out, and hopefully there are no divorces in the process. I wouldn’t call us marriage counselors, but we’re all trying to work this out together.”

In this coming world, the value of education will be paramount, he continued, and the school represents a culture change in academia that will help address real-world climate and sustainability challenges. The Doerr School of Sustainability includes academic departments from several areas of scholarship necessary to advance long-term sustainability; institutions that bring together disciplines and bring different perspectives to current problems; and an accelerator to provide proof of scalability for new policy and technology solutions around the world.

Sharing details of his experiences growing up in New Delhi, India, often traveling on coal and steam trains and sometimes walking to his destination, Majumdar has a passion for climate justice. He also said he would not be alive without the Green Revolution, which experienced food restrictions in the 1960s and a significant increase in crop production in South Asia and other developing regions of the world, initiated by scientists such as the late Norman Borlaug. and Carl Gotch.

“This is how ideas and decisions are made at scale,” Majumdar told the trustees.

“Friendship Ties”

Stanford is committed to creating a meaningful and memorable student experience that facilitates connection and learning; a healthy and diverse social environment; and campus infrastructure that is conducive to student events,” said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole in an update to the Student, Alumni and External Affairs Committee on campus social life and neighborhoods. The presentation was a follow-up to the June board meeting.

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According to Brubaker-Cole, the residential area was redesigned last year to provide a consistent community of peers and supportive faculty and staff for undergraduates during their four years at Stanford, and is off to a strong start this year. This fall, 57% of sophomores live with more than ten classmates who are in cold dormitories, a sharp increase from 2019, when only 10% of students did so.

On the first day of the move, a longtime fraternity reported seeing sophomores running through the halls and hugging each other, unlike in previous years when the halls were relatively quiet and students didn’t know each other, Brubaker-Cole said.

“These are early observations, but they give me great hope that students will be able to build friendships and ease the transition back into the school year, surrounded by friends and former neighbors. they’ve already set it up,” Brubaker-Cole said.

Supporting student mental health and well-being was one of Stanford’s most pressing priorities in the years before the pandemic, and it remains a top priority today, Brubaker-Cole said. Early findings on the long-term impact of Stanford residences show that friendships formed in residences predict student well-being, and these findings suggest that investing in infrastructure that supports diverse and multi-friendships can improve students’ mental health, as well as their personal and intellectual growth.

During the first week of school, neighbors saw early successes like the new Student Orientation Quarters and barbecues. These dovetail well with campus-wide events that enliven the campus, such as the return of weekly Cardinal Nights; Details and live performances in the bar behind the Arbor, Tresidder; farm day return; and the recent launch of the Explore the Bay series with off-campus experiences like a San Jose Sharks game. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Screening in Redwood City, he explained.

Housing and dining businesses and resident education helped make the effort possible, Brubaker-Cole said.

Each neighborhood develops an annual campus event that becomes a tradition over time, plus quarterly festival-type events and weekly or biweekly events, Brubaker-Cole added. Row houses received funding to jump-start event planning.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs is excited to see what students are doing with local council events and the wider campus this year, Brubaker-Cole said. A long-term, alumni, student, parent and staff Accelerating Social Life task force will share findings and recommendations to inform direction.

“Students can make their mark at Stanford this year in very special ways that will last for years to come,” Brubaker-Cole said.


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