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[Congressman Bill Foster (center) listens to a presentation by United States Secretary of Energy Rick Perry during a visit to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on Jan. 9.]
'A quick study'
Though Perry had previously advocated eliminating the Department of Energy, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said Perry was clearly “a quick study” in his understanding of the importance of the department and its functions and has become as effective as anyone in that job.
“Secretary Perry’s honest and sincere enthusiasm for the science that we do here shone through, both in his remarks here and the tour we took together of all the incredible research that is being done at Fermilab,” Foster said.
“He was just full of questions at all different levels. How could this be applied in the real world and the incredible science that is really the reason that brings people into this auditorium and this laboratory from around the world," Foster said. "And I’m really impressed that he has seen his mission to lead and to advocate for the Department of Energy and the Office of Science.”
Foster had been a scientist at Fermilab before serving in Congress.
Foster said the nation’s science labs have always brought talented scientists from other countries to the U.S. “and contributing to our national mission.”
“I hope that is one of the areas where he will be an effective advocate,” Foster said.
In terms of commercializing work done at Fermilab, Foster said the invention of proton therapy to treat cancer was due to Robert Wilson – the man whose name is on the building where Ramsey Auditorium is located and who was Fermilab’s first director.
The proton therapy machine at the Loma Linda University Cancer Center in California was developed at Fermilab and has treated thousands of cancer patients, Foster said.
“It shows the power of an idea and the strength of a laboratory in getting that idea to become real and to work in the real world and then having it commercialized,” Foster said. “There are companies that design and build and install these things because they have seen the success that was demonstrated at Fermilab, curing cancer with protons.”