Argonne National Laboratory

Weerts to lead Physical Sciences and Engineering directorate

By Lynn Tefft HoffAugust 10, 2015

Hendrik (Harry) Joseph Weerts has been named the associate laboratory director for the Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) directorate at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. Weerts has served in the role on an interim basis since May 2014.

As part of Argonne’s senior management team, Weerts will lead the PSE directorate and its world-class interdisciplinary research programs in physics, chemistry, materials science and nanotechnology. Weerts joined Argonne in 2005 as director of Argonne’s High Energy Physics division.

“Harry is a thought leader whose influence and leadership have a significant impact in the international science community,” said Argonne Director Peter B. Littlewood. “I look forward to working with him to expand the basic science contributions of the PSE directorate—these contributions are the beginning of Argonne’s pipeline of discovery and innovation, which ultimately produces game-changing inventions and technologies.”

Littlewood acknowledged Weerts’ accomplishments during his interim service, particularly his development of PSE’s strategic plan and appointment of new directors of the Nanoscience and Technology and High Energy Physics divisions. Weerts also has excelled in his leadership of the South Pole Telescope project team, which supports Argonne’s “universe as a lab” strategic initiative. Operated in partnership with the University of Chicago Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the telescope tracks a distinct radiation signature called Cosmic Microwave Background, essentially a snapshot of the universe as it looked about 300,000 years after the Big Bang.

Weerts has worked in neutrino physics at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, and hadron collider physics at the Tevatron at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He worked on nearly all aspects of the DØ experiment at Fermi for over two decades, including serving as spokesman from 1996 to 2002. From 1983 to 2008, Weerts was a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University, where he remains a professor emeritus.

Weerts’ professional activities include service on numerous national and international committees, collaborations and groups as founder, chair or member, including the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel.

From 2005 to 2012, Weerts helped lead the silicon detector design study for the International Linear Collider. He currently serves as regional director for Americas of the Linear Collider Collaboration and chair of American Linear Collider Committee. Weerts received his Ph.D. degree in physics from RWTH Aachen University in Germany.

Argonne’s PSE directorate houses scientists in five research divisions, as well as many researchers who play a key role in Argonne’s battery hub, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.

  • The Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division performs basic and applied chemistry research. Researchers specialize in catalysis, electrochemical systems, the nuclear fuel cycle, combustion chemistry, and multiscale ultrafast chemistry.
  • The High Energy Physics Division conducts research in both theoretical and experimental particle physics as well as accelerator development, detector research and development, particle astrophysics, and cosmology.
  • The Materials Science Division emphasizes the study of the structure and function of novel materials to solve America’s energy challenges.
  • The Nanoscience and Technology Division performs both fundamental and use-inspired nanoscience and develops connections between industry and Argonne's applied science divisions. It hosts the Center for Nanoscale Materials, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.
  • The Physics Division studies the structure of nuclei and nuclear reactions, nuclear theory, medium energy nuclear research, and accelerator research and development.

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