Work-Life Balance

18th June 2017
Friends from the MicroBooNE collaboration

Friends from the MicroBooNE collaboration.

With the excitement of Pridefest here in Chitown still making me swell with love and pride I figured it'd be a great time to dedicate this post to my lovely wife! We've been together for seven years and just got hitched late April. She's been there through the ups and mental breakdowns of grad school and I've seen her through two master's degrees. We've helped build each other up after school and the sense of not fitting in has broken us down. She's my rock, my best friend, and my biggest supporter!  This one's for you boo bear!

Alright, so we've gotten this far and you still don't know exactly what I do… Well, I work on an experiment called MicroBooNE stationed at Fermilab. MicroBooNE is a Liquid Argon Time Projection Chamber (LArTPC) that detects and studies these tiny ghostly particles called neutrinos. I've been trying to get the term "ghost-hunter" to describe neutrino physicists to catch but my friends keep telling me to "stop trying to make ghost-hunter happen, it's never going to happen!" – (let's see how many people get that reference)! The work that I do is fascinating. Neutrinos are so interesting! There's three types of neutrino flavors; electron neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino. They rarely interact with matter so it makes studying them super difficult and they have this weird property of changing their flavor. On top of neutrinos being so darn interesting, the MicroBooNE collaboration is so awesome and working at Fermilab is the bomb dot com! Everyone on MicroBooNE is so open and welcoming and affirming. I've gone from feeling like an outsider to settling in quite nicely. I also really enjoy being stationed at Fermilab. Fermilab has an Office of Education, Communication, and Diversity and I've had the pleasure and opportunity to work with all three since moving to Chicago. I love being able to have the opportunity to talk to high school students about what I do day to day or make youtube videos describing why I love neutrinos and to bring awareness to the fact that there isn't a one size fits all when it comes to physicists.  

Emily and Jessica

Emily and Jessica Esquivel, on their wedding day.

But that's not all I do, I have lots of passions outside of my work. I love flipping furniture, anything DIY related, reading embarrassing teen fiction novels (think Twilight, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments), and LOVE Halloween and costumes. I'm usually the oldest person in the teen fiction aisle of a bookstore, and come Halloween, the oldest in a costume! Planning our wedding was a huge DIY project and thankfully it didn't end in one big Pinterest fail. I first suggested a masquerade themed wedding and was quickly shut down; it was probably for the best cause it would've blown our budget. Our wedding was beautiful and it was amazing to have so many of my friends and peers from the MicroBooNE collaboration celebrate my wife and I. It meant a lot to be supported like that from the people that I spend most of my time with. There's this stereotype that I've been asked about that our passion for physics is all-consuming, and that can be true for some, but for a lot of us, we have many many other passions and a very good work-life balance. Planning our wedding took FOREVER! Two years to be exact and I was able to do it while working on my Ph.D. in physics! Don't let that stereotype of never having a life if you go into STEM scare you away from doing what you love. Don't get me wrong, there are times in this field where you are eating, breathing and sleeping physics; where there are deadlines, conference proceedings, posters and talks to write and get through the approval process, but it's not all the time and you don't have to be a workaholic! Just like any career, finding that work-life balance takes time but it's definitely doable. As I go on and on talking about work-life balance it's dinner time and my wife is sitting next to me waiting for me to finish writing this post so we can eat! So on that note goodbye for now.