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Celebrating 42 Years of Service at NIST

As prepared.

Welcome! What a great event.

Thanks very much to John [Bollinger], the rest of the NIST Ion Storage Group and the Time and Frequency Division for organizing this symposium, recognizing Dave Wineland and celebrating the impact of his ongoing research and collaborations.

Our people are really what makes us NIST, and anytime we have the opportunity to celebrate more than 40 years of stellar science as we are doing today, it is a good day.

I arrived at NIST too late to work directly with Dave, and met him here in Boulder as he was preparing to move to Oregon.  I have long admired and appreciated his accomplishments.

Based on both my own observations and on everything I’ve been told about Dave, he has consistently demonstrated NIST’s core values of perseverance, integrity, inclusivity and excellence.

He is a public servant and scientist of high principles who is universally revered. He’s one of many reasons I am so proud to be the NIST Director.

Thank you, Dave.

As we all know, Dave’s scientific achievements are legendary. Laser cooling. Atomic clocks. Building blocks for quantum computers. And well-deserved recognition for that amazing work: The Nobel Prize, the National Medal of Science and a slew of other awards.

As NIST Director, I see Dave’s influence all over the place. The new measurement science he made possible has literally changed science and the world.

Dave helped to launch the field of quantum information science, now an intensive research focus in the U.S. and many other countries. This field promises to have an enormous impact on computing, communications and encryption.

Dave’s group also built the first optical atomic clock, creating the science base for the world’s eventual redefinition of the second, and timekeeping likely to be 1,000 times more precise than the cesium-based definition of the second we have today.

Scientific impacts don’t get much bigger than that.

Dave started one of the first ion trapping research groups in the late 1970s, and now there are apparently 85 such groups around the world. Some of these groups are led by scientists Dave trained—and some of you are with us here today.

Technical skills are only part of this story. NIST colleagues have noted that during his long career at NIST, Dave was an outstanding leader and supportive mentor.

He listened, offered ideas and shared recognition with his group. By example, he made everyone better.

He provided a model for excellent communications skills, which are especially important today.

Dave won NIST’s Condon award four times. This award recognizes and promotes distinguished achievement in scientific writing.

It wasn’t all work and no play, either.

Dave extended his team building outside the lab through sports. Many of you here probably joined in the bike rides, ski trips, volleyball matches, softball game, and foosball competitions that Dave encouraged.

Dave also generously donated to NIST one of the limited copies of his Nobel medal for display in the Gebbie Building exhibit area, inspiring the rest of us to aim high.

There’s no question that Dave’s achievements have enhanced respect for NIST by both the scientific community and the broader public, especially for our world-leading time and frequency work.

Improving technology transfer is one of my top priorities for NIST, so I was doubly pleased to learn that Dave had earned a patent for some of his pioneering early research.

In fact, Dave is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which recognizes “creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

Yep. Sounds like Dave.

And, of course, all this good work created lots of positive attention to NIST through the news media. It helps that he did research on cool topics like teleportation and Schrödinger’s cats!

The media also recognized Dave’s personal qualities. As the Washington Post reported when he won the Nobel Prize, “If there was an international nice-guy prize, David Wineland probably could win that too.”

In one of my opening talks at NIST last year, I said that NIST is not losing Dave Wineland, we are gaining another university. Dave, we’re delighted that you continue your research in collaboration with the teams at NIST. You still have a NIST badge!

We are thrilled to have you back for this symposium and look forward to your joining us also in Gaithersburg in the not-too-distant future for the NIST Frontiers symposium, starting with our NIST Nobel Prize winners.

So Dave, thanks for being you — and thanks for coming home to be at NIST with us today!

Created August 20, 2018