From Fermilab to the U.S. House of Representatives

Via the blog Physics and Physicists, I’ve learned about the quite interesting story of Bill Foster, member of the Democratic Party that has just been elected as U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 11th congressional district.

Bill Foster is a Particle Physics Experimentalist, that after 22 years working in Fermilab decided to go into politics. He was elected as congressman from 2008 until 2011, and in the elections of last Tuesday he won the seat back. Not only he is been successful in academia and politics, but he also started a company (when he was 19!), Electronic Theatre Controls, that now has over 600 employees worldwide and manufactures over half of the theater lighting equipment in the United States. Wow.

Last year, in the physics workshop TIPP 2011 he gave a talk, where he described his life as “a Scientist in the US Congress”. The slides are available in this link, and are really interesting. He talks about his experience as businessman, scientist and politician. Some interesting points: he addresses why (and how) he went into politics, he shows pictures of his “crummy efficient apartment” in DC, he argues that life as a congressman is much harder than you might think, he shows a picture of himself with president Obama in the Air Force One, … Interestingly enough, he also discuss the application of analog electronics to politics with “a simple method for mitigating future Housing Bubbles”.

For more info about Bill Foster, see his article on wikipedia.

Btw, there have been only two other research physicists ever elected to Congress: Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt, Jr. (D-NJ). Here you have a NYT article talking about them.

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