Bill Foster

Congressman; 11th Congressional District of Illinois
Congressman Bill Foster is a scientist and businessman representing the 11th Congressional District of Illinois. He previously served in Congress from March 2008 until January 2011 as the Representative of 14th Congressional District of Illinois. He is the only PhD physicist in Congress.

Bill serves on the House Committee on Financial Services, a position he also held in the 110th, 111th, 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses. As a member of the Financial Services Committee, he advocates for consumer protection and a fair economy for everyone. In response to the Great Recession, he participated in the creation of several important reforms in the financial services and housing sectors, most notably the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In addition, Bill serves as chairman of the Financial Services Committee’s Task Force on Artificial Intelligence.

Bill also serves on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee where he has fought for evidence-based policies and forward-thinking approaches to some of our country’s most pressing issues, including climate change and energy innovation. He also champions sustained federal funding for scientific research.

Bill's business career began at age 19 when he and his younger brother co-founded Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc., a company that now manufactures over half of the theater lighting equipment in the United States.

Before he became a Member of Congress, Bill worked as a high-energy physicist and particle accelerator designer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). He was a member of the team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest known form of matter. He also led the teams that designed and built several scientific facilities and detectors still in use today, including the Recycler Ring, the latest of Fermilab's giant particle accelerators.

Bill lives in Naperville with his wife Aesook, who is also a physicist. Bill has two grown children, Billy and Christine. Bill's father was a civil rights lawyer who wrote much of the enforcement language behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Bill's Session


Wednesday, June 26
9:00 - 9:30 am
Ballroom
Aspiring to the Future
Bill Foster is a high energy particle physicist, designer and builder of particle accelerators and integrated circuits, and businessman who represents Illinois' 11th District in the U.S. Congress. His business career started at age 19 when he and his younger brother founded Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc., a company that now manufactures 70% of the theatrical stage lighting equipment in the U.S. Bill went back to school and obtained a Ph.D in physics from Harvard, then spent most of his career as a high-energy physicist and particle accelerator designer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). Bill was a member of the team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest known form of matter. He also led the teams that designed and built several scientific facilities and detectors still in use today, including the Antiproton Recycler Ring, the latest of Fermilab's giant particle accelerators. Bill programs in numerous computer languages including assembly language, VHDL, and TensorFlow. When Bill first ran for Congress, his campaign was endorsed by 31 Nobel Prize Winners. In Congress, Bill serves on the House Financial Services Committee, where he chairs the task force on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Financial Services and Secure Online ID. He also co-chair of the Blockchain Caucus. Bill also serves on the Science Committee and as head of the R&D caucus, where he has sponsored Congressional briefings on recent breakthroughs in Human Genetic Engineering. His talk will discuss the day-to-day realities of life in Congress, political campaigns, and the ways that a scientific and technical background is both useful and irrelevant to political life today. It will include a perspectives on the future of secure online ID in the U.S. from both a technological and political point of view, and discuss possible policy responses to the onslaught of AI-driven "deep fakes", voice synthesis, and identity fraud. The talk will close with a heartfelt pitch for more scientists and engineers to become actively involved in all levels of government.

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