Groucho Marx famously remarked that he would not join a club that would have him as a member. Despite that characteristically flippant response, he was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and a prominent member of several other clubs. Groucho understood that he needed an organization that could speak for professionals within his community and for his field as a whole.
Professional organizations play an important role for many of us, including scientists, engineers, computing professionals, finance personnel, project managers and individuals in many other specialties. These organizations support people in their careers by providing news, standards, career advice and sometimes certifications.
Fermilab has a special relationship with certain organizations that represent the fields of particle physics and accelerators in this country. The American Physical Society (APS) speaks for the field of physics, and its Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) speaks for the field of particle physics. The APS publishes many of the central journals of particle physics, organizes major conferences and acts as an organizing body for the field as a whole. The recent “Snowmass” Community Summer Study originated in the APS-DPF and was responsible for generating input to DOE, HEPAP and P5 to determine the future of our field and for Fermilab.
Accelerator science and technology is represented through the APS Division of Physics of Beams (DPB) and the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS). The Particle Accelerator Conference (PAC) was first established by the NPSS, and its evolution to the International PAC and North American PAC is jointly sponsored by DPB and NPSS. Additionally, NPSS sponsors several other major meetings in our field: the Nuclear Science Symposium, ICALEPCS and the Real-Time Conference.
The APS and IEEE-NPSS are distinct from the Department of Energy as they are democratic institutions composed of individual scientists and engineers. They represent the community in a grass roots manner and inform the branches of government, media and public about our activities and the future of our field. They act as a complement to the funding agencies, providing the scientific basis that helps define our mission.
These organizations elect individuals to a rank of “fellow” in recognition of achievement and leadership. Fermilab has 74 APS fellows, and they represent the Fermilab community to the breadth of the APS. For example, APS holds local gatherings for fellows from across the region to network and discuss the state of physics. Fermilab fellows’ participation in these events is a symbol of Fermilab engagement within the particle physics community.
As much as Fermilab scientists are part of the community, and as much as Fermilab is to be part of the community, we must also participate in these groups, which speak for the enterprises of particle physics and accelerators. If you don’t already belong to one or more professional groups in your field, consider becoming a member. Or, if you are already a member, consider participating on a committee or learn about other ways you can get more involved. The greater our representation in all of these organizations, the more strongly our voice will be heard.