I am one of 3000 physicists working on the ATLAS experiment on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. For several years, my colleagues asked me to serve as the Outreach and Education Coordinator, and it was a lot of fun. In fact, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than share the excitement of scientific discovery with the world, which – I guess – is why I joined Quantum Diaries.
CERN is an amazing place, and I am lucky to have had the chance to call it home since 1988. The University of Michigan first sent me over here to work on the L3 experiment on the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP). I counted 3 families of particles, got my degree, and then worked on B meson spectroscopy (excited beauty) until 1998, when I joined ATLAS.
On ATLAS, I focused on the development of software for the muon spectrometer and preliminary Higgs decay studies, until I got sidetracked to the world of communication. After chairing a committee on Collaborative Tools for the LHC, I decided to apply the technology to outreach, creating a program called ATLAS Virtual Visits. We now invite thousands of students from all over the globe into our control room via the web.
I currently serve as the on-site coordinator for two programs bringing American undergraduate students to CERN to work on research. The University of Michigan REU program invites 15 students each summer, and our Semester Abroad program, sponsored by the Lounsbery Foundation, brings another 10 during the Fall and Winter. These are great opportunities for the students and they certainly take advantage of them.
In my spare time, I am lead singer, manager, and full-time roadie for the Canettes Blues Band. The Canettes bring their unique style of Versoix Delta blues to Geneva pubs and summer festivals, including the Fête de la Musique and the Montreux Jazz Festival. I also organise a workshop each summer called the Music of Physics and the Physics of Music. Never expected those to worlds to come together, but hey, why not?