Argonne scientist to become ATLAS physics coordinator for CERN

By Jared SagoffJuly 17, 2008

LeCompte to oversee programs for collider detector

ARGONNE, Ill. —Tom LeCompte of the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has been tapped to be the physics coordinator for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland.

"It's obviously very exciting," LeCompte said. "The Large Hadron Collider is at the energy frontier. I'm grateful to the ATLAS experiment for showing such confidence in me, and I am grateful to the laboratory for being so supportive."

The ATLAS Collaboration Board recently approved the appointment of LeCompte as deputy physics coordinator of the ATLAS experiment. He will be deputy starting Oct. 1 for one year and then become physics coordinator on Oct 1, 2009.

He received his Ph.D. in physics from Northwestern University in 1992 and a master's degree in physics and astronomy from the university in 1989. LeCompte began as an assistant physicist at Argonne in 1995 and became a physicist in 2000. He has been involved with the Collider Detector at Fermilab since 1992 and STAR since 1995. At ATLAS, he has worked with the tile calorimeter and software and computer efforts and later as co-convener of the standard-model working group. ATLAS is one of two large collider detectors at CERN, and LeCompte will oversee the physics program for the experiment. The Argonne High Energy Physics Division has played a leading role in the design, installation and commissioning of the LHC tile calorimeter for ATLAS, as well as the trigger system and the software infrastructure.

"ATLAS will record about 2 million gigabytes of data every year," LeCompte said. "I joined Argonne's ATLAS effort about 10 years ago, and in that time have worked on a number of activities within ATLAS."

Experiments at the LHC will allow physicists to take a leap in their exploration of the universe. The ATLAS detector may help scientists unravel some of the deepest mysteries in particle physics, such as the origin of mass or the identification of dark matter. The ATLAS collaboration will now focus on commissioning the detector in preparation for the start-up of the LHC later this summer.

CERN is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It 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.