Fermilab welcomes new Community Advisory Board members

Tom Van Cleave leads a discussion at a recent Fermilab Community Advisory Board meeting. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Tom Van Cleave leads a discussion at a recent Fermilab Community Advisory Board meeting. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Ten new members joined Fermilab’s Community Advisory Board in 2015, bringing with them fresh insight on lab activities and projects for the new year.

The advisory board was established in fall 2009 following the success of two community task forces. It meets once every two months. The main mission of the board is to provide ongoing advice and guidance related to the future of the laboratory.

“I’ve always been drawn to Fermilab, and I have a great love for physics,” said Alex Tsang, chief forensic psychologist at the Kane County Diagnostic Center and new board member. “As a group, we’re reflective of the community and offer different perspectives from our various professions.”

The laboratory’s goal in selecting board members is to assemble a group that represents the diverse community surrounding the lab. Potential members from neighboring communities are invited to apply to participate on the board. The 2016 board has 27 members with professional experience in areas such as business, medicine and civil service.

“I was always fascinated by Fermilab, but I didn’t know a lot about what it did,” said James Gebhardt, vice president of finance and human resources at the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision and Community Advisory Board member since 2009. “I did a little research before I applied for the committee, and I saw they wanted a cross section of people with different expertise. I thought maybe my background could bring some benefit to their discussions.”

At recent meetings, members have discussed the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, Fermilab’s planned flagship facility and experiment. They have provided community feedback on the Fermilab Campus Master Plan, a major initiative that aims to create greater scientific access to the lab and build world-class facilities. These projects will bring major changes to the campus layout, and the board provides input on laboratory construction and progress.

Another point of interest for the board members is international cooperation at Fermilab.

“Before joining the board, I never realized the grand reach that Fermilab has,” Tsang said. “The diversity of minds, backgrounds, educational experiences and cultures can only benefit and enhance what the lab is already doing. It’s an honor to be a part of this.”

As the lab continues to grow, public feedback becomes critical. Community Advisory Board meetings are open to the public, and updates on board activities are available on www.fermilabcommunity.org.

“Fermilab takes our input seriously,” Gebhardt said. “We’re not a ‘no-name’ group, and it’s encouraging that the lab has this valuable dialogue with the community.”