One minute with Jerry Zimmerman, engineering physicist

Jerry Zimmerman is a jack-of-all-trades at Fermilab. Photo: Reidar Hahn

How long have you worked at Fermilab?
Twenty-seven years. I started in 1990 working in what was at that time the Research Division, working on detector development on the 14th floor of the high-rise. The group had only six people, so I was the — as I am today — jack of all trades. Whether it was cryogenics, electronics, mechanical — I handled it all.

What might you do in a typical workday?
I have two different parts to my job. For my on-site job, I’m an engineering physicist. I do work in the Village area, where I work on plastic extrusion and the test beam area, helping keep that running.

The rest of my job is my role as Mr. Freeze.

How did you become Mr. Freeze?
I’m actually Mr. Freeze III. Stan Stoy was the first one, back in the ’70s. In the early ‘90s, the Education Office came and asked if I would be willing to pick it up. My background in cryogenics allowed me to be creative in the position, and as of May 31 of this year, I’ll have been Mr. Freeze for 20 years. (Editor’s note: Jerry proudly pointed to his shirt with “Mr. Freeze” monogrammed on it when he said this.)

What kind of responsibilities do you have as Mr. Freeze?
My department, the Particle Physics Division, allows me 20 percent of my time to do shows. But that’s just day time — I also get requested for evening and weekend shows, which I do on my own time. I do about 120 events a year overall.

My goal during these shows is mostly to get kids excited about science. I want to show them things that they’re not going to see every day. If I can generate interest in science that keeps them going, I’ve succeeded.

What’s something people might not know about you?
My pastime, my outside exercise activity is roller skating. I’m actually a pretty good roller skater, which is probably surprising to some people. They see “The Big Bang Theory” and don’t expect a physicist to be good at something like that.