On Oct. 23, University of Tennessee physicist Sowjanya Gollapinni began her one-year term as chair of the Fermilab Users Executive Committee. She assumes the role from Boston University physicist Ed Kearns, who served from 2016-17.
The Users Executive Committee, or UEC, heads the Fermilab Users Organization, a group of scientists and engineers who advise the laboratory on scientific and administrative matters related to the users and provide support to the user community.
One of Gollapinni’s goals this year will be to strengthen the ties between the UEC and the broader body of users at the laboratory. She plans to schedule periodic social and formal events so that Fermilab users have opportunities to meet personally with committee members.
“We can increase our face time with the users, meet at Kuhn barn over drinks and food, and talk about quality-of-life topics,” Gollapinni said.
She also plans to increase the UEC’s participation in laboratory strategic planning, ensuring that the committee has a say in how Fermilab’s scientific and experimental programs are carried out.
“It’s important for us to participate,” Gollapinni said. “Fermilab has a growing international community of scientists, and it can greatly benefit from our perspective as users.”
During his term, Kearns worked to increase user participation at the laboratory as well. He chaired the UEC during Fermilab’s 50th anniversary, which gave rise to a special subcommittee focused on the special 50th Anniversary Users Meeting and Symposium.
“It was my privilege to chair the UEC, a committee whose tradition can be traced back to the beginning of Fermilab. Being involved in the 50th anniversary was a special treat, and the subcommittee that ran the 50th Annual Users Meeting, headed by Sarah Lockwitz and Thomas Strauss, did a fine job working within the space of the big celebration,” Kearns said.
He also notes that the Quality of Life Subcommittee, led by Minerba Betancourt, made sure there was a forum to connect the user community with the lab, and that last year’s Government Relations Subcommittee under the leadership of Louise Suter had a successful trip to Washington, D.C. — its annual trip to meet leaders in the capital — to advocate for Fermilab’s scientific program.
“The most outstanding UEC impact this year was the revitalization of the education and outreach effort by Sowjanya Gollapinni, including the transitioning of the famous Saturday Morning Physics into new and capable hands,” Kearns said, referring to Gollapinni’s role as leader of the long-standing education program for high school students at Fermilab.
Four subcommittees serve under the UEC. The Quality of Life Subcommittee, chaired by Frank Chlebana, addresses user issues related to on-site housing, transportation, office space, site access and other.
Brian Nord chairs the Outreach and Education Subcommittee, whose goal is to serve as a hub for resources, training and professional connections in the sphere of science communication and public engagement.
The Government Relations Subcommittee, led by Carrie McGivern and Joseph Zennamo, works with stakeholders across the community to develop new outreach materials that will help advocate for particle physics and raise public awareness.
Tammy Walton chairs the Users Meeting Subcommittee, one of whose goals is to bring more user-related topics, inspiring users to attend all the meeting’s scientific sessions.
Other members of the committee include Leonidas Aliaga-Soplin, Gavin Davies, Sarah Demers, Jiyeon Han, Fernanda Psihas and Thomas Strauss.
Gollapinni emphasizes that each group has an important role and that maintaining a high level of user interaction will be key for both quality of user life and the lab’s mission.
In order to obtain more input from the community, the UEC has established a feedback form, accessible from the UEC webpage.
“I thank Ed for serving the UEC for the past year and making sure our group maintains ties to the lab’s user community,” Gollapinni said. “I’m grateful to have an opportunity to continue his efforts and to make Fermilab a place where users feel they can do their best work.”