Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 25  |  Friday, July 19, 2002  |  Number 12
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

Profice in Physics: Dee Hahn

by Kurt Riesselmann

Dee Hahn, standing next to her husband Steve, is an integral part of the 600-member CDF collaboration.

Joining the laboratory as a technician in 1984, Dee Hahn has been an integral part of the Collider Detector at Fermilab almost since its very beginning.

“I was up in the cable trays pulling cables,” Hahn said recalling her early days at Fermilab. She remembered as well the night in 1985 when she came to the CDF control room at 2 a.m. to celebrate the first collisions ever observed by the CDF detector.

“I even brought my two kids to the party,” she said with a smile. “The experiment was very small, maybe one hundred and fifty people. Everybody knew everybody.”

Today, the CDF collaboration embraces more than 600 people, and it is hard to keep track of all the names and faces of its members. But if you don’t know Dee Hahn, you might as well not be a member of the CDF collaboration.

“Everybody knows who Dee is.” —Nigel Lockyer, CDF Cospokesman

“Everybody knows who Dee is,” said Nigel Lockyer, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania and cospokesman of the CDF collaboration. “These days, she is responsible for the shift schedule, and the entire collaboration runs shifts. She also provides the radiation safety training. I actually had training this morning together with twelve other people.”

Although Hahn “still likes to get her hands dirty,” her main job these days is to coordinate work at CDF and to keep employees and users safe. Only technicians and scientists with valid training credentials are allowed to enter the collision hall to carry out repairs or upgrade equipment when the accelerator, usually running 24/ 7, is temporarily shut down.

“Anybody working on the detector needs radiation worker training,” explains Hahn. “I keep track of people’s records and provide some of the training, which is usually valid for two years.”

Lockyer appreciates the way Hahn keeps the collaboration on track.

“She’s very professional when it comes to safety issues, and she enforces rules with an iron fist,” he said, indicating that you may get an earful if things are not right. “If you step on the wrong side, she’ll let you know.”

Hahn confirmed her stern approach and the lack of patience she displays when people don’t listen.

“I come down really hard on them when they violate regulations or they don’t consider safety as important,” she said.

Nevertheless, people think of “Deedee,” as she’s often called, as a pleasant and helpful person.

Dee Hahn, a frequent visitor to the CDF control room. “She cares for all of the CDF people,” said physicist Arnd Meyer, who frequently interacts with Hahn in his current role as one of three CDF operations managers. “She’s very fair when dealing with people, whether you are graduate student or professor. She listens and tries to help when people have problems—including private ones. Despite the increasing size of the collaboration, she’s handling things at a very personal level.

“She supports CDF with a lot of pep, despite the constant influx of new people who probably repeat the same mistakes everybody else has made before. And she often brings food for the people working shifts in the control room.”

Hahn and her husband Steve, a CDF physicist, seem to be the only permanent players in the ever-changing teams of scientists working in the control room. Shift members inform them every time they access the collision hall, even if it is on a weekend or in the middle of the night. And the Hahns often visit CDF on weekends to check how things are going, especially when new crew members are on duty or an access takes place.

There are many other occasions when Dee Hahn goes beyond duty, helping collaboration members as much as she can. Also, she buys birthday cards and organizes parties, helps people find housing and used cars, and promotes English classes to foreign physicists.

“I enjoy working with people from all over the world,” said Hahn, who studied to become a teacher and took classes to teach English as a second language. “Sometimes young physicists come here with a piece of paper written by their advisors and read: ‘Hello Dee Hahn. My name is…’ I really sympathize with them.”

From early age her two children, Chad and Kylie, have also been exposed to the international atmosphere at Fermilab. The kids spent their early years at the Fermilab day care facility. As they grew older, Hahn and other parents had the idea of providing day camps for employees’ children during summertime, a program still going on.

Although none of her children plans to become a physicist, growing up at Fermilab may have motivated her son to study International Relations. And Dee Hahn is proud of it.

“We are really a Fermilab family,” she said with a big smile.

On the Web:
CDF homepage
Safety and training at CDF

last modified 7/19/2002   email Fermilab