Senator Meets with Fermi Director to Discuss Support for National Labs

[WASHINGTON, DC] – On the same day that the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to two scientists for their work discovering neutrinos, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met today with Dr. Nigel Lockyer, the Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, our nation’s premier high-energy physics laboratory and home to the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment. Today Durbin and Lockyer discussed the importance of continued federal funding for scientific research and development programs.


“Today, I join Dr. Lockyer, the researchers at Fermilab, and the entire global scientific community in congratulating Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald on being awarded the Nobel Prize in physics,” Durbin. “Their groundbreaking discovery on neutrinos fundamentally changed our understanding of the world around us. As the home to the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility – the world’s highest-intensity neutrino beam – Fermilab is now poised to be a global leader in building on their research and producing more groundbreaking discoveries. This is why it so critical that we maintain our commitment to the scientific research taking place at our national labs. The discoveries they are making today will create jobs in the growth industries of tomorrow.”


The Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment is a primary focus at Fermilab, and represents the next frontier of particle physics. Its research is focused on mastering our understanding of neutrinos and unraveling the mystery of how neutrinos oscillate. The proposed Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment – a collaboration of 148 institutions in 23 countries – aims to advance that understanding by studying the particles as they travel 800 miles from Fermilab to an underground detector in South Dakota.


Although groundbreaking work continues to be done at research universities and National Laboratories like Fermilab, Durbin has raised concerns regarding the steady decline in federal research investment which has led to a cumulative $1.5 trillion research investment deficit. Durbin is the author of two bills – the American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act – to support biomedical and science research, and to preserve America’s standing as a leader in discovery and innovation.


The American Innovation Act will put funding for basic research on a consistent, steady growth path over the next decade by providing annual budget increases of 5 percent – over and above inflation – for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Directorate.


Durbin has also championed the energy research and development accounts that support work at Fermilab. Last year, Durbin helped secure $766 million in funding for the Office of Science’s High Energy Physics account which is the primary source of funding for Fermilab, and accounts for approximately 90 percent of the lab’s funding. The funding – included in the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2015 – helps support the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, a primary focus at Fermilab; the Muon to Electron Experiment, which could result in the development of a revolutionary technology in the field; and Superconducting Radio-Frequency (SRF) Accelerator research, which develops new technologies that will be used across the DOE national laboratory system to build more-powerful detection tools and instruments.


Fermilab is the nation’s premier high-energy physics laboratory that employs over 1,200 people including physicists, engineers and computer professionals. The laboratory leads U.S. research into the fundamental nature of matter and energy. Fermilab is a world-leading laboratory in the study of neutrinos and very rare processes using existing and upgraded facilities.