The annual Users Meeting is a tradition at Fermilab. For the past 55 years, the user community has gathered together once a year to celebrate the scientific and technological achievements produced at the lab during the previous year and look toward those to come in the following one. The meeting is hosted by Fermilab’s Users Executive Committee.
The meetings in 2020 and 2021 were held completely online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the UEC took a hybrid approach, with attendees both online and in Fermilab’s Ramsey Auditorium. The theme of this year’s meeting was “A Focus on the Future.” This multilayered theme was primarily aimed at welcoming Lia Merminga as the new director of Fermilab. Her appointment opens a new era at the lab. In addition, the particle physics community is in the midst of the Snowmass process to provide a scientific vision and detailed proposals to the planning process for the future of US particle physics. Fermilab will, of course, play a key role in this vision. The meeting aimed to highlight that and all the potential that PIP-II offers. The meeting also celebrated future leaders in the field by highlighting the achievements of Early Career researchers.
More than 300 participants registered for the meeting. Most remained virtual, but on each day 49 on-site participants were welcomed to the Ramsey Auditorium, in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions that were in effect that week. For many, it was their first time at the lab and a chance to meet collaborators face-to-face for the first time.
During the meeting, each collaboration associated with an experiment at Fermilab presented their latest results, and collaborations with experiments under construction presented their progress. The meeting was followed by the New Perspectives conference, organized by Fermilab’s Student and Postdoc Association and the cook-along Festa Italiana, which saw on site and virtual participants follow the instructions of professional chefs to make their own delicious Italian dishes. The Festa Italiana is another of Fermilab’s annual traditions and an excellent way to relax after the meeting and (virtually) socialize with new and old collaborators.
The Users Meeting kicked off on June 13 with welcome talks from UEC Chair Sridhara Dasu and Users Meeting Chair Sophie Middleton. Next, Fermilab Director Lia Merminga presented her vision for the lab and took questions from the audience who were thrilled to hear what she has planned. We were also delighted to welcome Glen Crawford, research and technology division director at the Department of Energy. He gave us an overview of DOE activities and recent highlights from DOE-funded projects.
Monday also saw updates from the Accelerator Division, including the latest progress from PIP-II, R&D and the test beam.
In the afternoon, the virtual poster session was held. Most presenters were early-career scientists who brought their energy and enthusiasm to the poster session. The group showcased 23 high-quality posters. They represented the broad spectrum of scientific research carried out at the lab: ANNIE, CMS, DUNE, LDMX, Mu2e, Muon g-2, MicroBooNE and NOvA. The event was held over Zoom with the posters stored online on our WordPress site: https://uec.fnal.gov/uamposters22/. All the posters were extremely well-presented, and the judging panel, which consisted of faculty and senior postdocs from a range of backgrounds, had a tough job narrowing the pool to three winners. In the end, Nupur Oza from MicroBooNE, Namitha Chithirasreemadam from Mu2e and Tyler Horoh from LDMX took first, second and third prizes, respectively. This year, we were also joined by participants from the ACT-SO program (https://naacp.org/our-work/youth-programs/act-so-achievement-program). It marks the start of Fermilab’s involvement in this program, which is aimed at improving inclusion in STEM for young people from African-American backgrounds.
On June 14, we welcomed former CMS collaborator, now Yale Law School Fellow, Yangyang Cheng, to the meeting. Cheng’s talk focused on her experience as an Asian scientist in the U.S. Cheng was recommended by the Fermilab Asian and Pacific American Lab Resource Group. She gave a thought-provoking and engaging account of the experiences of Asian scientists throughout American history and shared her own experiences with us. The audience had many questions for Yangyang, which she was happy to answer.
Throughout the rest of the day, we heard several talks with updates from the Theory Division, as well as from current and planned experiments. Many of these talks were presented by early-career scientists, and most were able to present their talks in person in Ramsey Auditorium. Our science communication workshop followed, hosted by Fermilab expert Rebecca Thompson, head of the Office of Education and Public Engagement. The workshop was an interactive opportunity to enhance communication skills, focused on disseminating research to audiences outside of traditional STEM environments.
On June 16, we were pleased to be joined on site by Universities Research Association Executive Director John Mester, who presented the URA awardees with their prizes. This year’s awardees, selected by three independent committees, all were recognized for their work on the Dark Energy Survey. Elizabeth Krause was awarded the URA Early Career Award, Maria Vincenzi was awarded the URA Graduate Thesis Award and Alexandra Amon won the URA Tollestrup Award.
The afternoon featured our keynote speakers: Farah Fahim and Jonathan Jarvis presented their Department of Energy Early Career Award-winning research. Fahim spoke about her work, which uses artificial intelligence to enable data reduction, and Jarvis spoke about his work on the world’s first experimental demonstration of optical stochastic cooling. Both speakers engaged the audience and received many questions. The talks were a great opportunity to celebrate the work of these two researchers and raise awareness of the broad scope of innovative activities and their applications here at Fermilab.
The meeting wrapped up on Thursday morning with a series of talks on the various neutrino experiments taking place at the lab.
Sophie Middleton closed the meeting with a thank you to all those involved in the planning process for the meeting. She thanked all the speakers and attendees for making this year’s meeting a success and for their understanding when on site attendance had to be reduced to less than 50 in-person participants. The UEC hopes to welcome all 300 participants onsite next year for the 56th Users Meeting.
The UEC would like to thank all people who contributed to the success of this meeting, particularly the Conference and Communication offices, the Directorate, the Universities Research Association, the Fermilab Student and Postdoc Association, the poster judges, as well as all speakers and attendees. Organizing this meeting and other activities throughout the last year have been an excellent experience for all of us UEC members.
We would like to encourage all users to participate in the nomination and upcoming election of UEC members for the next two-year term, 2022-2024. The nomination period is now open. See more details on the UEC webpage, uec.fnal.gov.