Foster Victory Adds 2nd Physicist to Congress

Bill Foster

Congressman Bill Foster

Physicist Bill Foster recently regained an Illinois Congressional seat after being defeated in 2010. The Democrat joins Rush Holt (D-N.J.), thereby doubling the number of physicists in Congress. He unseated Republican Judy Biggert, who had been a member of Congress for 14 years, serving all of her time as a staunch advocate for science on the House Science Committee.

Foster started as a researcher at Fermilab in 1984. He was part of the team that wrote the software for the Collider Detector at Fermilab collaboration that discovered the top quark in 1995. He also helped design and manage the construction of the Tevatron’s recycler ring.

Foster was first elected to the Illinois 14th Congressional district in a special election in 2008 after former house speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) stepped down. The district encompassed the cities of Aurora and Batavia, home to many of the physicists who work at nearby Fermilab.

In 2010, Foster lost his seat to Randy Hultgren as part of the Republican takeover of the House.

Following the 2010 census, the congressional district lines were redrawn, splitting Biggert’s former district and reforming the 11th over some areas that used to encompass Foster’s 14th. The redrawn district abuts Fermilab and Argonne National Lab. After a campaign that focused on the importance of science, Foster won the district with 56 percent of the vote. 

The importance of scientific research to America’s economy was a central theme of Foster’s campaign. Previously he served on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and will likely return.

“Investments in basic scientific research are among the highest return on investment of any that our society can make,” according to Foster’s website.

“[K]eeping the technological pipeline full–from basic research, to technology development, to market driven deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies–is crucial to our country’s long term economic health.”

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