This column comes near my six-month anniversary since I joined Fermilab. It has been a whirlwind, an adventure and a pleasure. Not only is my daughter happily fascinated by the hundreds of geese each morning on site, but I have relearned how to scrape ice off car windows and how long that light at Kirk Road takes before allowing left turns. Perhaps most importantly, I have had a chance to learn about the lab and share its story with others.
For instance, as we chart the course to a future where Fermilab has a steady relationship with commercial partners exploring new technologies, we choose to spend time in the community. In this vein, Bob Kephart, Pushpa Bhat and I piled into my car and drove downtown two weeks ago to attend the American Academy of Arts and Sciences roundtable on “The Vital Role of Research Preserving the American Dream.”
Not only did we have a chance to meet several U.S. congressional representatives and former Presidential Science Advisor Neal Lane, but we also had the chance to talk about particle physics, accelerators and creating jobs for the future with business leaders in the community and entrepreneurs from Chicagoland. I was thrilled to see how much name recognition Fermilab had but was also interested in helping to educate some people who were unaware of Fermilab’s current programs. One key observation from the roundtable was about the value of co-locating discovery science with the ability to design, build and test novel equipment and facilities. We talked about how Fermilab is well positioned to this type of work, especially as a national laboratory working with universities, students and commercial vendors.
In another example, I spent an evening participating in the National Engineering Forum Regional Dialogue event with colleague Arkadiy Klebaner in Chicago. At this event, we were greeted warmly, and it was clear that Fermilab enjoys a good reputation among professional engineers. We had a chance to meet the deputy mayor of Chicago and invite him to visit Fermilab. Arkadiy and I also talked with the deans of engineering schools at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois about co-op student opportunities at Fermilab.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I spend all of my time stuck commuting downtown in Chicago traffic. To me, the most important connections I’ve been making have been within the laboratory and across the site. From discovering which lights still work inside the Tevatron tunnel to learning how many liters of liquid argon will be circulated per minute within the MicroBooNE detector to visiting the Kautz Road Substation and the Fermilab gym in the Village, it’s all been educational, inspiring and worthwhile.
So as I continue to work my way around the laboratory to see where I can provide support or guidance, I look forward to meeting you!