One minute with Bonnie King, system administrator

Bonnie King is a Linux administrator in the Scientific Computing Division. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Bonnie King is a Linux administrator in the Scientific Computing Division. Photo: Reidar Hahn

How long have you been at Fermilab?
Almost four years.

What do you do here?
I’m a Linux administrator and the assistant group leader of Scientific Linux and Architecture Management — that’s in the Scientific Computing Division. We support Scientific Linux computers used for data acquisition for the experiments, and also scientific workstations in the control rooms and elsewhere. We respond to tickets and requests to support online computing. We also build Scientific Linux, which is the Linux distribution built here at Fermilab. My team and I are bringing solid best practices to detector computing. It takes discipline.

How’d you get into that?
I’ve been into Linux since my first year of college. I went to art school, where I also took some electronics classes. My experience with Linux turned into a job at the computer lab. At that time I was supporting Mac OSX computers. Then I became a data center technician at Google and have been working in technology every since.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I really like visiting thes experiment halls and working close to the detectors. It’s not the commodity stuff you see in industry. The detector installations are intricate and high-tech, but also have a beautiful, handmade quality.

I’m very lucky to be contributing to scientific discovery. I don’t have a physics background, but at the detector-electronics level I can get an idea of how the experiments work, and it’s fascinating.

What kind of art do you make?
I had a traditional-art education to start, but then I went to a more modern school, so I have experience in both traditional and modern art. My degree is in drawing and painting. I do oil painting, mostly landscapes and buildings, and have a studio in Batavia.

Are there parallels between your art and the work you do now?
There are definitely parallels. I think coding and a lot of different aspects of technology are more connected to creativity than people realize. I believe there is a relationship between hacking and making art.

One thing I learned in art school was how to respond to critique. That’s helped me in my career.

What is something people might not know about you?
I went to French Immersion in public school and was once fluent, but I’m a little rusty. I’m always looking for French speakers to practice with.