Seeking: charismatic scientists, engineers
A group photo of mentees from 2008.
Near Valentine's Day every year Roger Dixon and Erik Ramberg play matchmakers at Fermilab.
They put out a call to laboratory employees: Seeking successful scientists and engineers who must love sharing knowledge for a 10-week relationship.
The annual February round up of participants for the laboratory's mentorship programs create a great opportunity for scientists to meet and educate prospective future colleagues.
Typically about 200 student suitors vie for a chance to spend time with the mentors.
"Young people are the future of the field," Dixon said. "It's important to turn them onto science."
Dixon, head of the Accelerator Division, and experimental physicist Erik Ramberg manage two of the Fermilab internship programs: the Internship for Physics Majors (IPM), for foreign students; and the DOE-sponsored Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program (SULI), for U.S. students. They need a dozen mentors at Fermilab to work with the group of interns they intend to select by the end of March.
Volunteers should have projects with goals that can be reached during the 10-week internship. The idea is to give the interns, who are mostly undergraduates, laboratory experience and an introduction to a field many of them may pursue.
Ramberg got his start in particle physics as an intern at SLAC, and he's been a long-standing mentor at Fermilab. He says the interns are very bright and self-starting and often do excellent work for their mentors.
The mentorship program has been successful at recruiting students for scientific careers. About one-third of the interns go on to pursue careers in particle physics, and more than half end up working in a scientific field. Some students have even ended up back working at Fermilab.
"I've had a number of students who have done very significant work on the projects," Ramberg said. "I wish more could stay on."
A meeting for people interested in becoming mentors for one of the internship programs will take place on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. in Curia II.
-- Kristine Crane