- American Physical Society Sites
- Meetings & Events
- Policy & Advocacy
- Careers In Physics
- About APS
- Become a Member
As a high energy physicist, Robert Stanek has worked on some of the biggest experiments in physics, including HERA, Germany’s largest research instrument, and as part of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN. To ensure students from low-income backgrounds or underrepresented groups have the opportunity to study physics, Stanek also joined the APS Legacy Circle, which recognizes donors who support APS initiatives through planned giving. APS members who join the Legacy Circle help to fund initiatives that will make a positive impact on the physics community.
“I've always been a proponent of helping students out.’” says Stanek. “I was going to leave all [of my money] to help scholarships for students [hoping to] go into physics. And then my wife convinced me to leave half to Lincoln Park Zoo [in Chicago] and half to APS. My motivation was to give scholarships to students that could not afford [college] that wanted to go into physics.”
Stanek received his PhD in 1980 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, completing his thesis work at Fermilab. After a brief stint working in nuclear medicine at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, Stanek returned to high energy physics as a post-doc at Argonne National Laboratory. Stanek would go on to work on polarized beams at Fermilab, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and HERA, before ending up at CERN, where he served as a project leader on ATLAS for four years.
Stanek is now connecting with the next generation of physicists through volunteer activities to help get kids interested in science. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Stanek spent his Saturdays volunteering at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry performing physics demos. He also takes demos to local schools to “show kids that physics can actually be fun.”
Inspired by his predominantly Hispanic community in the Southwest side of Chicago, Stanek became interested in helping students pursue college who may not otherwise be able to afford it. He has donated to the APS Bridge Program, which is working to increase the number of PhDs awarded to students from backgrounds that haven’t been traditionally represented in physics.
Stanek encourages others to consider the impact of investing in physics on the future generation. “I would suggest thinking about supporting students to go into physics…these young kids that are coming up, are they going to have [to] make it on their own, or are you going to help them out if you can?” says Stanek. “It’s my priority to get kids into high energy physics…but if somebody else wants to do solid-state physics, then that's fine with me, too.”
©1995 - 2021, AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine