Liz Quigg

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory • MS226 • Box 500 • Batavia, IL 60510 • 630 840-2631 •

Home Flash/Director Web Work Exhibits Databases/Lasso Interactive Video Bio

Web Work

Here at Fermilab we have been developing web content since 1992. Stanford Linear Accelerator established the first US website and Fermilab and MIT followed in June 1992. Researchers were the main users of the web. In 1994 we developed the first public website at Fermilab. Here are some websites that represent the range of projects I have worked on over the years.


SIMply Prairie - Supporting Student Research

I worked with teachers and Education Office staff to develop SIMply Prairie, a problem-based learning website that supports online authentic student research. Although the web has more and more of these sites, it was one of the first sites of this kind. It was a natural extension of the Particles and Prairies Program we had already developed for students who come to Fermilab to do research in the prairie.

Students develop research questions related to prairie plant population, answer them with student data, and publish their results. Students can collect and enter data for their own prairies throughout the prairie states. They can compare their data with data from other native and/or reconstructed prairies. The site includes background information on prairie plants, student-friendly, searchable databases of plants and animals, data entry pages, annual summaries of prairie plants studies with plots, and analysis tools to do longitudinal studies of prairies.

To implement this site, we used Lasso Middleware and Filemaker for student data, photographs, plant and animal databases. I describe the database/ lasso work more fully under the Databases/Lasso link above. We converted the video from the Particles and Prairies videodisc to realvideo and provided that as an online resource. All the slides from the videodisc are in an onine database.

We used a lot of javascript to create the plots and Shockwave Flash for the visualizaions that are described under the Flash/Director link above.


Simply Prairie

SIMply Prairie Plot

Fermilabyrinth - Developing Games in Javascript

I describe this collection of Web-based games and activities under the Flash / Shockwave link above because many of the games are implemented in Shockwave Flash. There are also several that are Javascript-based. Their development was a real challenge because these were developed when Netscape and Microsoft were going their separate ways on implementing Javascript. I mentored Mason Kidd, a student at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, who tenaciously navigated the dangerous waters of Javascript to develop the first activity: Particles Families. De Huang, another student, benefitted from Mason's efforts when he developed Baryon Bonanza. I developed the remaining activities requiring Javascript: Particle Graffiti, Detector Detail and Particle Pinball. We also used Javascript to generate the dynamic code needed to embed and pass the proper parameters to the Shockwave movies. We used animated gifs and Quicktime movies in Detector Detail and animated gifs in Particle Pinball.


Cosmic Ray e-Lab (Java Server Pages with Tomcat)

This project is a collaboration of the QuarkNet staff at Fermilab and members of GriPhyN (Grid Physics Network) at Argonne and the University of Chicago. I am just one of many people have worked on it including a number of undergraduate students from the University of Illinois.

Development on this website has been quite different from the projects we have worked on before. We are using Java Server pages to create dynamic pages that integrate well with Java and JavaBeans. We uses a Tomcat server on a machine at the University of Chicago. The Cosmic Ray e-Lab was built on top an architecture for the Virtual Data System and grid job submission. We use virtual data techniques to track our analyses and data products. We attach metadata to all objects in the VDS. We added a user database that we are now extending. VDS and our user database are implemented with PostgreS. You can read more about the user database for the project on the page describing Databases / Lasso.

We gave a talk and wrote a paper " The QuarkNet/Grid Collaborative Learning e-Lab" at CCGrid2005 - CLAG + 2005 describing this project in detail. We have worked with teachers to provide the support for students and teachers needed to make this a successful problem-based site for students to do authentic research. The workflow on the left provides structure for the students as they work. An e-Logbook allows student and teachers to record and track their progress. Students publish their results as posters accessible to other students. Students can build on the work of others by recreating the analyses associated with plots created by other students.

Cosmic Ray e-Lab

e-Lab Workflow

Education Office Website

Home to all the programs and activities of the Education Office, I made the first Education Office pages as part of the the First Public Website described below. Laura Mengel improved the site and provided a cgi to search a text-based database of programs. Eventually we moved that data into a Filemaker database and used Lasso Middleware to generate program pages, calendars, and searches. You can read about the web-based databases used by our site.

Our next version used a Flash animation to show the collision of the protons generating balls that represent the main items for navigation on the site. The Education Office staff added enormous content to this site over the years.

In 2007, we did a complete update of the website and added AJAX capabilities to allow more easily accessible and dynamic content. Fermilab Today did an article on it. I worked on the technical side of it while we turned to Xenomedia for help with the appearance. The website content comes from three servers: the main server (, the Lasso server ( and a Filemaker Server.


Flash Animation

Education Office Website
Current Version

Fermilab's First Public Website

I collaborated with other Fermilab personnel in the development and production of the first version of the Fermilab website for the public. We launched the site at CHEP94 to announce the evidence for the top quark in April 1994 and to serve as the electronic front door to Fermilab. We had 12,000 hits on the site the day after the announcement, a large number at that time. The site was featured in many books and articles.
Our website was the first to use the web to communicate high-energy physics to the public. We worked very closely with the Public Information Office on the content.
As you can see on the graphic of the home page on the right, the site had three main areas beside the news release and its background information:

  • Introduction to High-Energy Physics
  • Information on Fermilab, the HEP Lab
  • Internal Pages for Fermilab Staff and Users

We provided many of accepted elements of websites such as a search, navigation, and index. We made use of the limited graphics capabilities supported by browsers at that time. We had two image maps, one providing a tour of Fermilab. My talk on the 10th anniversary of the first web site in the U.S. at Stanford Linear Accelerator Lab describes the work on the the site. You can read about some of the makeovers since then.

Fermilab's First Public Website