Attendees of the 2015 USLUA Annual Meeting at Fermilab. (Photo credit: Fermilab.)
The US LHC Users Association gathered for our annual meeting November 11-13 at Fermilab. Highlights from the meeting include an overview and dialogue about the US HEP program by Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer, reports from the DOE Offices of High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics, the latest results from first LHC Run 2 data from ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, and LHCb, and many other useful discussions.
It has become a yearly tradition for the centerpiece of the annual meeting to be the lightning round competition, during which young physicists give brief presentations of their work. The lightning round talks provide a great forum to highlight the important contributions of students and postdoctoral researchers. Graduate student Nathan Jurik from Syracuse University echoed the feeling of many attendees when he said, “I particularly enjoyed the lightning round talks. It was fun to hear about some of the exciting research being done by other young physicists from different experiments.”
The winners of the lightning round are selected by a panel of judges, based on who presented their research in the most compelling manner, displaying the speaker’s talents and command of science, as well excitement for our field. The winners of the lightning round are invited to join the yearly HEP trip to Washington, DC, where USLUA members meet with members of Congress and their staff, key committees and representatives of the DOE and NSF. Jesus Orduna, a senior research associate from Brown University who helps to organize the annual trip, says, “Over the last few years the DC trip has experienced a positive growth year-over-year. For us to continue that trend, we need the talent and energy that all the presenters showed during the lightning round talks. Bringing some of them to DC is a well-deserved treat for them and will get us one step closer to our goal of having a successful DC trip in 2016. A win-win.”
A new addition to the USLUA meeting this year was a career panel discussion, where four former LHC scientists were invited to describe the evolution of their careers and share their experiences in the spheres of data science and teaching. In addition to being a warm reunion for many, the panel discussion provided a fruitful forum for both younger and senior scientists to inquire about careers outside of high-energy physics.
Yangyang Cheng, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, summarized the meeting well: “I really enjoyed my experience at the USLUA meeting this year. Different from typical physics conferences or workshops, the USLUA meeting not only brought illuminating physics presentations, but also important discussions on science policy, career development, and serious long-term thinking into the future of our field.”