40: Hunting Ghost Particles with Particle Physicist Jessica Esquivel


There’s lots to learn in this episode including:

  • What makes neutrinos (the building blocks of the universe) so important and so elusive!
  • What you can see in a particle vacuum- they pop in and out of existence- and Jessica is searching for new particles!
  • How Jessica was inspired by watching sci-fi shows with her aunt, and how knew she wanted to become an astrophysicist at a very young age.
  • And… what is Wakandacon?  https://wakandaconforever.com/

“I was one of the only women in my classes, but I kept saying, ‘watch out, I’m coming!’ I fell in love with electrical engineering because it showed me how physics worked in action.. then I told my Mom I was going into physics.”

Jessica Esquivel, Ph. D

At the end of the day, what Jessica wants YOU to realize, is that: “anybody can do physics, and anybody can study space!  There’s this mentality that you have to be Albert Einstein smart to study physics. Anybody can do it! Studying space or physics in general, is all about failure! When we think about it, it’s the scientific method! You come up with a hypothesis or theory, you test that theory and it may not hold up- then you go back to the drawing board and start again. So being comfortable with failure- taking it in stride- and full disclosure, I’m still working on that!”


Jessica Esquivel received her Bachelor of Science degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas where she double majored in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics.  She went on to become the 2nd black female to receive a Ph.D. in physics from Syracuse University in 2018, and worked to study neutrinos. Jessica now works as a Fermilab Postdoc research associate on the Muon g-2 experiment, where an inconsistency between experiment and theory could point to new physics!

Jessica has recently been selected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador!  You can learn more about this impressive appointment here: http://ifthenshecan.org and AAAS – The American Association for the Advancement of Science
African American Women in Physics, Inc


Learn more about Fermilab National Laboratory: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory