“People function better when they are happy,” said Chang Kee Jung, a professor at Stony Brook University who has enjoyed teaching and mentoring young people for many years. “And people are happier when they have social connections.”
Jung is impressed with the technical and supervisory support that Fermilab offers to visiting students and postdocs, but after-hours he knows that colleagues go home, leaving the visitors to find something to do.
In January of 2016 Jung organized what has become the Wednesday evening Neutrino Social at Fermilab’s Frontier Pub. Neutrino scientists and any neutrino enthusiasts associated with Fermilab are welcome. A group of about eight people now plan the evenings and recruit senior scientists to act as hosts. IIT postdoc David Martinez and Brazilian grad student Monica Soares Nunes have been particularly active in planning the Socials over the past several months.
“I enjoy the friendly atmosphere where we can meet people from different experiments and talk about other things, not just neutrinos,” said Nunes.
Jung wants to encourage the members of this international community to connect with their peers from different backgrounds and with scientists at different stages in their careers.
“I like to see people make friendships that wouldn’t otherwise happen naturally,” he said. “It’s too easy for people to stay within their own cultural and age groups.”
Having come to the U.S. years ago as a student from South Korea, Jung knows how important friendships between colleagues can be – and he is happy about the success. The Neutrino Socials have become quite popular, and people often stay until the Frontier Pub closes at 10:00.
“We drink beer, order mixed appetizers from the Pub, and talk a lot,” he said. “Sometimes we get pizza and sometimes we go out. We’ve gone to Indian and Korean restaurants – and even went dancing at a Colombian restaurant in Chicago.”
Every couple of months or so a group of scientist-musicians shows up with instruments and song books for a sing-along. (Participation is optional but highly encouraged…) April 12 was one such evening, with host Debbie Harris on mandolin.
“It’s nice for younger people to have a low-pressure environment to get to know each other and meet some of the senior people,” said Martinez. “And it helps when you’re back at work, too. I think that having fun together improves our productiveness in science!”
You can request to join the neutrino-social FaceBook page to know what’s happening and to keep up the connections even when you’re away!