Fermilab’s first Victor Blanco fellow: an NSHP partnership

Sandra Charles

Sandra Charles

Our efforts to cultivate a diverse workforce at the laboratory go beyond regular employees. The laboratory’s Diversity and Inclusion Office looks for ways to increase our recruitment of underrepresented minorities through internships and student programs, building a pipeline for a staff that more closely reflects the national population.

To attract more Hispanic STEM talent to Fermilab, we recently established a relationship with the National Society of Hispanic Physicists, or NSHP, which runs the Victor Blanco Fellowship program.

I’m pleased to announce that our first Victor Blanco fellow will intern as part of Fermilab’s Summer Internships in Science and Technology, or SIST. Israel Chavarria, a junior in the University of Texas at El Paso physics program, will work with Fermilab scientist Juan Estrada on detector development for particle astrophysics.

NSHP selects highly qualified students pursuing degrees in physics and astronomy to be Victor Blanco fellows. Now that we are partnering with the organization, NSHP will promote Fermilab’s internship programs to the fellows, putting forth the best candidates for our scientific programs. This provides Fermilab with a connection to a strong pool of potential interns historically underrepresented in STEM.

Last year Juan accepted a D&I Office request to speak at the annual SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) conference, where he met NSHP President Jesus Pando, chair of DePaul University’s Physics Department. From that meeting and follow-up conversations, we’ve established this pilot, which will serve as the basis to write a more comprehensive proposal for the Victor Blanco Fellowship at Fermilab in the future.

SIST offers undergraduate sophomores and juniors majoring in physics, engineering, materials science, mathematics and computer science the opportunity to conduct research with Fermilab scientists and engineers.

Israel’s internship is one example of many laboratory efforts under way to recruit and retain the knowledge, skills and abilities of a diverse talent pool. When our laboratory provides these kinds of opportunities to early-career scientists from underrepresented populations, our laboratory gains the benefits of an inclusive, more engaged and more insightful staff working to advance our mission.

Sandra Charles is the head of the Fermilab Diversity and Inclusion Office.