February 03, 2023

Duckworth, Durbin, Foster, Underwood Introduce Resolution to Name Fermilab Research Center After Renowned Physicist Dr. Helen Edwards


[WASHINGTON, DC]—U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), and U.S. Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL-11) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) introduced a bicameral resolution to rename Fermilab’s Integrated Engineering Research Center (IERC) after the late Dr. Helen Edwards, who worked at Fermilab as a particle physicist for 40 years. The IERC will be home to new office and lab space that will host an intersection of scientific disciplines.

“Illinois’s own Fermilab is a crown jewel of American innovation at the forefront of cutting-edge science,” Duckworth said. “For years, hundreds of scientists and engineers at Fermilab have dedicated their expertise to scientific discovery and answering some of the world’s most complicated questions, including the late and brilliant Dr. Helen Edwards. Not only is renaming the Integrated Engineering Research Center after her well-deserved, I think it tells generations of girls interested in science that they belong at the table. I’m proud to help reintroduce this resolution with Senator Durbin.”

“Dr. Helen Edwards was an extraordinary scientist who dedicated 40 years of her life to deepening our understanding of particle physics. Her pioneering work on the Tevatron earned her well-deserved national recognition and provided the foundation for the advanced particle physics research conducted by Fermilab scientists today,” said Durbin. “I cannot think of a worthier namesake for Fermilab’s new IERC than Dr. Helen Edwards.”

“Over its history, Fermilab's success has been built by the hard work of committed scientists. Helen Edwards was a scientific and technical leader of Fermilab from its earliest days, and she was a dear friend. Helen was also deeply committed to the accelerator research and engineering that will be carried out in the Integrated Engineering Research Center, and it is altogether fitting that it bears her name. I’m proud to be continuing this effort in the U.S. House to honor her memory,” said Foster.

“Helen Edwards was an inspiring and passionate scientist who was dedicated and instrumental to the development of the Tevatron. I am pleased we can honor her by naming the Integrated Engineering Research Center after someone who embodied the spirit of Fermilab,” said Dr. Lia Merminga, Director of Fermilab.  

Dr. Edwards was a particle physicist best known for overseeing the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the Tevatron, a machine which for 25 years served as the most powerful particle collider in the world. The Tevatorn was used to find two of three fundamental particles discovered at Fermilab – the top quark in 1995 and the tau neutrino in 2000.

Dr. Edwards’ work on the Tevatron earned her a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1988 and the National Medal of Technology in 1989. The Tevatron remained in use until 2011 when Fermilab moved to new accelerator projects like the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility, which relies heavily on the foundations built by Dr. Edwards. Dr. Edwards passed away in 2016.