Roy Schwitters, Director The National Science Foundation demonstrated its knack for spotting talent 10 years ago when it selected this experimental physicist for its prestigious Alan T. Waterman Award as the nation’s outstanding young scientist. Schwitters, then a recently named professor of physics at Harvard, was chosen for his important contributions in the design and construction of a particle detector for the Stanford Positron-Electron Accelerating Ring at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, More recently, he was codirector of a large team that designed, built, and put into operation the Central Detector Facility at Fermilab’s Tevatron.

Now, at the age of 45, Schwitters has taken on his most challenging assignment. But it’s clear that he—as someone who loves his work—is suffering from divided loyalties. “I accepted this job because it’s important for science, and this country, to do this project. I’m interested in the scientific questions it’s trying to answer, and...

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