One minute with JoRee LaFrance, hydrology intern

<center>JoRee LaFrance</center> <center>Photo: Chris Greer</center>

JoRee LaFrance
Photo: Chris Greer

How long have you been at Fermilab?

I will have been here for 12 weeks this summer. I’m a part of the GEM fellowship program, which helps underrepresented groups participate in science through internships and graduate school. After this I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in soil, water and environmental sciences with a focus in hydrology from the University of Arizona.

What did you work on this summer?

I am a part of the Tritium Task Force here at Fermilab. My job is to help move forward the task force’s long-term goal of monitoring how higher beam power will change the low levels of tritium we have on site and how to properly manage it.

In nature, tritium is produced when cosmic particles hit the particles that make up Earth’s atmosphere. At Fermilab, tritium also is a byproduct of the target systems here, produced in small quantities. When the beam hits two particular targets, it produces tritium, a form of hydrogen that emits low-energy particles. We try to keep the tritium levels as low as possible.

My small part contributing to this goal was determining the actual volumetric water flow for the sewer and industrial cooling water systems. This will help inform the task force in modifying its sampling scheme to figure out tritium loads for the whole lab as new experiments start up.

What inspired you to go into hydrology?

I’ve always wanted to work outside, and I’ve always had this love for water. I really love the story water can tell you. I never knew that you could actually get a job or do anything studying water, but there are so many different things you can study in hydrology.

One of the main drivers for me studying hydrology came from my upbringing. I live on the Crow reservation in Montana, and we have a water contamination problem. We don’t have an actual hydrologist or anything like that to address these issues from a scientific perspective.

I really just want clean water for our people. Water is super vital and important to us, and it’s contaminated where I come from in Montana.

What do you like most about interning here at Fermilab?

My favorite thing is everyone’s welcoming personalities. The internship is intimidating in the sense that you are working with really smart people, but it’s also really nice that they want to teach you about their work.

What are some things you have learned from this experience?

I think patience is one of the main things, because I’m working on such a long-term project. I have come to realize, at least with my project, that even the small work that I’ve done has helped my group move along in different aspects.

I’ve also added to my knowledge of hydrology with data analysis techniques I’ve learned here. My advisor has shown me the different approaches we can take when it comes to analyzing our data.

I also learned that there are neutrinos everywhere. At least I’m leaving with some physics knowledge.

What do you enjoy outside of work and school?

I love to play basketball. I also love super chill, local coffee shops. I’ll just drink coffee, sit with my computer and hang out.

What’s something people may not know about you?

I have an older, fraternal twin sister. My Crow name is Iichiinmaachileesh, meaning “fortunate with horses.” I’ve been riding horses since I was two.