Jon Bakken: New Core Computing Division head

Jon Bakken

Jon Bakken joined Fermilab in 1994, but he brings a starting-over-again outlook to his new post as head of the Core Computing Division.

“I fully recognize I’m the new guy here,” said Bakken, who officially assumed his new duties on Oct. 1. “I’m excited to be the Division Head and I will be doing my best to make us an efficient division, ready to help the laboratory meet its mission.”

How does he plan to achieve this? Along with the help of Mark Kaletka, now the deputy head of the Core Computing Division, he has some ideas.

First, they will encourage staffers to take exercise breaks, after learning from Amy Pavnica, CD Safety Officer, that short breaks lead to increased productivity. Bakken will also work to get the word out on CD’s accomplishments. That means offering visible credit for the division’s staff, such as commending Kaletka for his leadership role in pursuing ISO20K certification for the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Bakken also would like department heads to take responsibility for submitting an article for each issue of “CD-Tracks,” CD’s monthly online publication.

As always, safety remains the top priority.

Mark Kaletka

“I want to be informed of any safety and security matters in a timely manner,” Bakken said. “If you are ever thinking, ‘I wonder if Jon wants to know this,’ the answer is yes!”

He also wants to encourage an expansive and responsive view of what needs to be done and when.

“We need to be flexible and work on many different items throughout the week,” he explained. “We are a laboratory; priorities change. We do not live in a black and white world. Be agile! Be willing to take on short-term, high-priority tasks with little advanced warning.”

Bakken’s background displays his own flexibility and agility. He had a triple major of physics, government and math at St. John’s University in central Minnesota. At Johns Hopkins University, he wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the Time Projection Chamber at SLAC.

He was a professor of physics at Princeton University and worked in industry at Marin Marietta Science Systems in Denver. At Fermilab, he worked on online star finding and astrometric star cutouts for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He was a project leader for Enstore and dCache, the mass storage system used at Fermilab for large experimental data sets. Bakken was the Tier 1 manager of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) project at Fermilab, overseeing the computing used for the analysis of raw, processed and simulated data straight from CERN’s LHC. He was also the department head of CMS Facilities.

In his spare time, Bakken taught an Advanced Placement calculus-based physics class at nearby Marmion Academy in Aurora. The class elicited the grumbling of half-asleep, adolescents over the 7:30 a.m. time slot. But many students took the AP test and obtained a year of college credit.

“If you were to ask any of the students during the school year, they would have complained bitterly about having to work too hard,” Bakken said. “Then in the spring, they would go to local, regional and state ‘physics contests’ and they were very excited when they came back with trophies, many of them for first place.”

Mike Perricone