Pritzker Engineer Meets with Astrophysics Club

Dr. Farah Fahim, deputy head of quantum science at the Fermi Quantum Institute and Parker’s 2020–21 Robert A. Pritzker Visiting Scientist•Inventor•Engineer in Residence, met with members of the Upper School Astrophysics Club to discuss her work on developing detectors for dark matter particles.

In this virtual gathering, Dr. Fahim first went through different theories about the age of the universe and the ways scientists are attempting to determine when the universe actually started, when it will end and what is currently happening within it. Dr. Fahim then explained the importance of dark matter, which might hold the key to the causes of change in the universe.

At Fermilab, Dr. Fahim works as an engineer to develop detectors that measure dark matter and dark energy. Recently, her work has focused on making instruments quieter and more sensitive to have the most accurate reading and further understand dark matter.

Students asked Dr. Fahim questions about her role and specifically her work in electrical engineering. She said, “I like to get involved in everything! That’s the beauty of being an engineer in this kind of field; electronics are required for almost everything. The more sensitive the detector becomes, the more important the electronics become.”

A powerful example of a successful woman in the STEM field, Dr. Fahim noted that those in attendance were all women, with the exception of US Physics teacher George Austin.

Austin reflected, “I think it is really important that students get to see themselves represented by the speakers we bring to the school so they can imagine themselves following in the same footsteps and also extend the journey into uncharted territories as well.”

As the Pritzker Engineer in Residence, Dr. Fahim has spoken with several science classes and presented to the Parker community on how “Curiosity Leads to Innovation” in her field. This program continues to have a significant impact on our students’ science curriculum and further expands their view of where a career in science can take them.

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