Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

There are 17 laboratories owned by the Department of Energy, and Illinois is the only state lucky enough to have two of them. Less than 30 miles from Argonne lies Fermilab, one of the leading international laboratories for particle physics, the study of the basic building blocks of matter. Founded in 1967, Fermilab quickly gained international acclaim with the discoveries of three particles of nature: bottom quark, top quark and tau neutrino.

ADVANCING PARTICLE PHYSICS Since the dawn of time, mankind has been on a great journey to understand how the world works, and Fermilab continues this quest with the use of particle accelerators, detectors and some of the brightest minds in physics. “Fermilab’s job is to provide the tools that researchers from the U.S. and around the world can use to advance science,” explains Katie Yurkewicz, Fermilab’s communications director. More than 4,500 scientists from 50 countries around the world use Fermilab in their research, with applications in everything from the diagnosis and treatment of diseases to the inks found on your cereal boxes. “Particle accelerators are even used to implant that silicon chip that runs your smartphone,” stresses Yurkewicz.

THE ORIGINAL FRONTIER Particle accelerators are no small thing and Fermilab houses their seven on 6,800 acres of pristine land, complete with hiking trails, picnic areas, an off-leash dog park, and ample opportunities for nature lovers. The grounds are open to the public from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. It was the vision of Fermilab’s founder, Robert Wilson, to be at the “frontier of science while also bringing back the original frontier.” Wilson authorized the restoration of farmland to native prairie and brought the first herd of Native American bison to the lab in 1969. Visitors have been drawn to these bison for nearly half a century, especially when a dozen or so babies are born each spring.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH & EDUCATION “Something that’s really important to us, as a federal facil- ity,” notes Yurkewicz, “is to have a positive and supportive relationship with the community.” Fermilab offers weekly drop-in and self-guided tours, a monthly “Ask a Scientist” lecture series, a youth Science Center on-site and an annual Arts & Lecture series. Between field trips and scientist visits to schools, Fermilab is able to introduce 40,000 students a year to particle physics.


While Fermilab and Argonne are revolutionizing science, Brookfield Zoo and Morton Arboretum are committed to advancing natural conservation. So, it’s safe to say that DuPage County plays an important role in the scientific community.


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