On Jan. 19, the Fermilab Users Executive Committee hosted an inaugural meet-and-greet in the Wilson Hall atrium during the regular wine-and-cheese hour. We co-organized the event with the Fermilab Student and Postdoc Association to provide an informal forum for users to interact with the new UEC officers.
We were delighted by the attendance: Between 100 and 150 people came to the event.
We plan to make this a new tradition. Our goal is to inform users of what UEC does and provide an informal forum to connect with them. We actively sought feedback on topics that fall under UEC’s purview, and we encouraged attendees to take home with them posters and other materials prepared by the UEC and FSPA.
It was fun! We held a raffle: Users who interacted with at least four UEC members (one from each UEC subcommittee) could enter tickets. Nigel Lockyer presented three lucky winners with prizes and gift cards to the Frontier Pub at Fermilab.
As hoped, we received plenty of questions. Dmitri Denisov, a Fermilab scientist, asked if one could measure the impact that our advocacy visits to Washington, D.C., have on budgetary outcomes. Andrew Mogan, a graduate student from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, asked if we could help with the wireless connection issues at some locations in the Fermilab Village. Another interesting question came from Cindy Joe, an engineering physicist at Fermilab, who asked, “What is the definition of a user? Is any employee with sufficient interest and engagement in the scientific aims of the lab considered a user? If so, can they run for the UEC? Are they welcome at the Users Meeting?”
We also received anonymous feedback in our suggestion box. Much of it was related to lab facilities, the cafeteria and the new rental car services, which the UEC will work to address in the coming weeks.
The meeting also served as a venue for program managers at the lab to interact with users and the UEC. Kappatolia Sherman noted that her office welcomes input directly from users on visa-related issues and on how their services can be improved. Griselda Lopez from Global Services, Stacey Vasallo from HR and Sandra Charles from the Talent Acquisition Office also came and interacted with us.
We were delighted and amazed by the event’s outcome. On behalf of the UEC, I thank the Directorate for sponsoring our first meet-and-greet and FSPA for helping us organize it.
As usual, users can provide their feedback and input to the UEC through the UEC webpage. Please keep an eye out for announcements on future meet-and-greets and other UEC events!
Sowjanya Gollapinni is chair of the Fermilab Users Executive Committee and a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.