Director Emeritus Leon Lederman departs Fermilab

Leon Lederman
Photo: Reidar Hahn

Fermilab’s Leon Lederman is leaving the laboratory that he served for ten years as its director and for many more as an internationally renowned physicist and science education pioneer.

The directorate is hosting a farewell reception for Lederman today at 3 p.m. on the 2nd-floor crossover. He leaves Batavia, Ill. for Driggs, Idaho. His last day at the lab is Monday, June 11.

Lederman’s early award-winning research in high-energy physics brought him into national science policy circles and in 1963 he proposed the idea that became the National Accelerator Laboratory. In 1977 Lederman led the team that discovered the bottom quark at Fermilab. The following year he was named director and his administration brought Fermilab into its position of scientific prominence with the achievement of the world’s most powerful superconducting accelerator, the Tevatron. He served as director until 1989.

Lederman is the recipient of some of the highest national and international honors bestowed to a scientist. His awards include the 1965 National Medal of Science and the 1972 Elliott Cresson Medal, given by the Frankin Institute. In 1982 he received the prestigious Wolf Prize, an annual prize given by the Wolf Foundation in Israel. He received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the muon neutrino and was honored with the Enrico Fermi Award in 1992. And just this year, he was recognized for his distinguished scientific career with the 2012 Vannevar Bush Award, given to exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology.

Lederman advocated for math and science education and for outreach to the neighboring communities. He initiated the Saturday Morning Physics lectures and subsequently founded the Friends of Fermilab, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, and the Teacher’s Academy for Mathematics and Science.

Read more about Leon Lederman.

Days before their departure from Batavia, Leon Lederman and his wife Ellen pose under an ivy-covered trellis with their faithful four-legged friend. Photo: Reidar Hahn