Building on a Legacy of Teaching and Research: The Rededication of Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall

Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana
April 14, 2011


In the early days of the IU Cyclotron Facility, a tradition was started to honor graduating doctoral students with a plaque on the wall of the lounge and with a tree planted on the grounds to celebrate their achievement.

Today, as we rededicate the IU Cyclotron Facility as the Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall, we recognize the legacy of research and teaching those magnificent trees represent.

A New Chapter

Of course, when most people look at those trees, they may not imagine the rich history of research, education, and discovery that has led us to this day.

That history includes great innovations in accelerator technology growing out of our top-ranked physics programs. It includes generous funding from the NSF, which supported the construction of the cyclotron in the early 1970s.

The NSF re-directed that funding to other projects in the 1990s, and at that point, we repurposed the cyclotron to support what then was the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute or MPRI.

Today, we are formalizing the latest chapter in that history. The Integrated Science and Technology Hall is home to three new discrete but collaborative units: the Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter (CEEM), the IU Health Proton Therapy Center (formerly MRPI), and Cyclotron Operations.

CEEM builds on this university’s traditions of excellence in accelerator physics, materials research, subatomic physics and nuclear and condensed-matter theory. With facilities like the Low Energy Neutron Source or LENS and Advanced Electron-Photon Facility or ALPHA, faculty members from physics, chemistry, astronomy, and other areas continue their innovative and multidisciplinary research.

IU Health Proton Therapy Center and Cyclotron Operations operate in collaboration with technicians and specialists in Cyclotron Operations creating close-tolerance, one-of-a-kind appliances that match the shape and penetration of a proton beam to the shape and location of a patient’s tumor. Of course, Cyclotron Operations also supports the equipment needed to produce and maintain that beam. This has been a highly effective partnership with nearly 1,300 people treated here over the years.

Both Doctors Wissink and Johnstone will speak in more detail about these units in just a moment.

A Broad Vision of Research at IU

Of course, collaboration is a vital part of the broader vision for research at Indiana University. That vision stretches across the university and looks out over the next few decades.

Central to that vision, as a bridge between the university and the broader community, is the technology corridor that stretches along the Bypass. The east end, or IU Tech Park East, is located at Tenth and the Bypass and is home to the IU Data Center, the IU Innovation Center, the Cyberinfrastructure Building, currently under construction, among a number of other facilities. And the northern terminus of that corridor, or IU Tech Park North, includes the Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall.

Imagine what the remarkable concentration of talent, expertise, and infrastructure along this corridor will draw over the course of the next thirty years. Imagine new research facilities and private sector enterprises lining the Bypass and further distinguishing Indiana University as an international leader in technology-based, cutting-edge research.

This is the vision for this technology corridor, which supports the creation of new knowledge, clinical applications, new business start-ups, and commercial ventures while dramatically contributing to the economic vitality of Bloomington and south central Indiana.

This facility continues to attract researchers from across the campus, across the country, and around the world. They are coming from Japan, Europe, and South Africa; from Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Sandia National Labs; from the Aerospace Corporation, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin: all to carry out research using accelerator technology located few other places in the world.

And patients have come from nearly every state in the union, including Alaska, and from seven other countries to be treated with proton therapy.

Phil Thompson's Story

As impressive as these connections are, we also see the power of this facility in stories of survival.

With us today is Phil Thompson.

In 1968, he was part of the team that dismantled cyclotron magnets from their original location in Swain West and reassembled them here at this facility. In fact, he remembers when the building was brand new and nearly empty. Phil continued to work here in a variety of capacities for the next thirty years, retiring in 2000.

He was shocked when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer about four years later. After weighing his options, he selected proton therapy and was treated at what is now the IU Health Proton Therapy Center.

He likes to say that he built the machine that saved his life, and he is right. He is a survivor with no signs of cancer to date.

Would you please join me in thanking Phil for being here and for sharing his story?

A History of Leadership

This—and so many other—stories of success and survival would not have been possible without the strong leadership that has guided this facility over the years.

With a history that dates back to the early 1970s, the list of leaders is long, but let me briefly recognize and welcome a number of them: Dr. Robert Pollock, who led the facility from 1972 to 1979 and has influenced so many parts of this facility’s development; Dr. Daniel Miller, who served as co-director of the facility from 1979 to 1986; Dr. John Cameron, who served as director from 1987 to 2004; Dr. Paul Sokol, who directed the facility from 2004-2007; and Dr. James Musser, who directed the facility from 2007 to 2010.

These men would likely be among the first to say that it takes a team to succeed in such a collaborative environment. They would likely want to share the spotlight with their colleagues rather than bask in it alone. I hope they will indulge me when I ask you to join me in thanking them for all that they have done throughout the long and impressive history of this facility.

Conclusion: A Good Space Problem, if There is Such a Thing

At the beginning of my remarks, I mentioned the trees planted to celebrate the doctoral students who have conducted research at this facility.

Over the years, there have been one hundred and forty four such students to have graduated in Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Theory, and Accelerator Physics.

They have gone on to become scientists, researchers, and professors at Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Los Alamos National Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, Jefferson National Lab, Fermi Lab, NASA, and MIT, among a host of other places.

If you count the number of trees out front, you may notice that there are not quite one hundred and forty four.

As I have said on a number of occasions, we have a space problem here at Indiana University. We simply ran out of room for more trees.

In this case, as in few others, this is a good problem to have. It indicates the scope of this university’s educational endeavors and the close relationship between our education and research missions.

Clearly, it has not hampered the growth and evolution of this remarkable facility nor has it stifled the collaborative spirit that has saved—and continues to save— so many human lives.