Gene Fisk retired from Fermilab after nearly 40 years

Gene Fisk

Gene Fisk retired on Oct. 7, but he wants to see two Fermilab projects through to completion. The former DZero department deputy head and scientist out of the Experimental Physics Projects Detector R&D hopes to continue his research at the laboratory on a part-time emeritus basis.

The first is DZero, which he has been involved with since 1984. The second is a study looking at photon detection for the measurement of muons.

“We still have five years of data analysis, now that the Tevatron shut down,” Fisk said. “There certainly is stuff to do.”

Fisk left an academic career at Carnegie Mellon University to come work at Fermilab in 1972. Since then, he worked primarily with CDF and DZero.

News that the Tevatron would shut down prompted Fisk to consider retirement. Had it kept going, Fisk said he probably would have too.

“It bothered me for awhile, but it’s hard to hang on to any scientific project for 25 years,” he said. “I’m 75, I shouldn’t go on forever.”

His colleagues are not surprised that Fisk plans to continue his research even after retirement.

“Gene has been involved with DZero since 1984. He wants to see it through to its completion. He’s very interested in what we do here,” said his supervisor George Ginther. “We’re a large collaboration. People come, people go. There’s always a hole left when someone leaves. But we don’t believe he is leaving.”

Fisk has always been helpful to others, particularly the scientists who come to Fermilab from afar, said Linda Stutte, a retired colleague of Fisk’s. They first worked together in the early 1970s.

“He had a lot of rapport with a lot of the foreign scientists,” she said.

Fisk said many things have changed over the years, but international collaboration has remained a hallmark of Fermilab since the early days. As a result, some of the world’s top scientists worked at Fermilab over the years, and Fisk said he was honored to have known many of them.

Of course, continuing his research may also be a way for Fisk to put off the dreaded task of cleaning his office.

“He has a lot of piles,” Stutte said, laughing. “But he knows what’s in all of them.”

Fisk admitted his office is a bit of a mess and he is not looking forward to sorting through everything.

But he is looking forward to spending more time hiking and skiing with his family at the home they built six years ago in Teton Valley, Idaho.

But they have no plans to move there permanently.

“It doesn’t have a Chicago Symphony,” Fisk said, noting that he and his wife love the Chicago area and plan to continue calling Batavia home. “Chicago has so much to offer. There’s lots to do here.”

Victoria Pierce