John Tompkins, Technical Division, retires from Fermilab

John Tompkins

It is a common rule that a trained high-energy physicist contributes to many different aspect of his lab’s physics program. John Tomkins is a confirmation of this rule. Now we wish him well as he enters retirement.

As grad student from UCLA in 1972, John went to the USSR to work on a 70-GeV proton accelerator in Russia, the most powerful in the world at that time. He was one of the first Americans to visit the Institute of High Energy Physics in Protvino. In 1974, John continued his research at Fermilab, collaborating on the E216 experiment.

As the Superconducting Super Collider was getting started in 1987, John was recruited in the Central Design Group, leading a team of physicists responsible for testing superconducting magnets. During this period he often traveled to Fermilab to visit the Technical Support Section (now the Technical Division), participating in the testing of the first SSC dipoles. After the closing of the SSC project, John was hired by Fermilab in 1994. As he often joked, previous Fermilab director John Peoples fired him from the SSC and hired him to work at Fermilab.

John helped build the Development and Test Department, which played a key role in the development, testing, precision measurements and analysis of all types of accelerator magnets. He helped develop magnets for the Fermilab Main Injector and Recycler and for the LHC model magnet program. He worked to advance the niobium-3-tin high-field magnet frontier and advocated for the development of new magnetic measurement systems.

In 2007, John led the ILC Americas Magnet Systems organization, a multilab and university coalition. Afterwards, he capably led efforts to develop superconducting magnets for the HINS R&D project, which was later redirected to become Project X (now know as PIP-II) R&D, and played a major role in the Very High Field Superconducting Magnet Collaboration. Later, he became a manager for the MAP project.

“John has always been an excellent and discerning supervisor and team leader,” said Magnet System Department’s Joe DiMarco. “He creates an environment that fosters initiative and careful work and is enjoyable to be part of. I feel privileged to have worked with him from the early SSC days to the present.”

Although his last working day at the laboratory is today, John will continue to keep tight connection with Fermilab. He is invited to be a part of several incoming lab reviews. In a year or two, he plans to move to west coast to be close to his children.

Mike Tartaglia and George Velev, Technical Division