Liz Quigg retires after 43 years at Fermilab

Liz Quigg

Those who know Liz Quigg know that under her cheerful exterior is a workhorse, one who’s been putting her code-slinging skills to use for Fermilab computing and education for more than 40 years. Now she’s retiring. Her last day at the lab is Thursday, Dec. 7.

Quigg started at Fermilab in 1974 as an applications programmer in the Computing Sector. She worked with a team of programmers to develop software for experiments to collect and analyze data. The first software was in assembly language on PDP computers with as little as 16 kilobytes of memory.

After a leave of absence to attend graduate school and work for one year at Apple, she returned to Fermilab in 1990 and concentrated on multimedia, exhibit and web development to enhance science education. In fact, Quigg was a member of the team that in 1994 developed Fermilab’s first website for the public. That same website announced the 1995 discovery of the top quark.

That kind of forefront work characterized many of Quigg’s contributions to Fermilab. In the early 1990s, she helped develop an interactive video program called “Particles and Prairies,” which won the NewMedia Invision 1993 Multimedia Award of Excellence and the Gold Award for K-12 Education. She collaborated with a team on the project, including teachers and the staff from the Education Office, Roads and Grounds Department, A/V experts Reidar Hahn, Jim Shultz, and Fred Ullrich, who were instrumental in developing the video, as well as former Fermilab Archivist Adrienne Kolb and Mitch Adamus. The program also incorporated data from the prairie quadrat study, in which students gather data from the Fermilab prairie. The students have to date collected 25 years’ worth of data and can use the website to see the trends in the development of the reconstructed prairie at Fermilab.

Quigg worked in Computing from 1974 to 2005, when she moved to the Education Office.

As a member of the Education Office, Quigg worked with QuarkNet, an outreach program that provides teachers and students with hands-on opportunities to do particle physics research. She helped the network develop e-labs, projects where high school groups around the world can compare each other’s physics data. She also developed the Education Office’s website, enabling online users to easily view the lab’s education and outreach events and register for its programs.

“It seems like Liz has worked on everything for us. She’s done web development, content creation, web design, online web games, database development,” said Fermilab Office of Education and Public Outreach Head Spencer Pasero. “There’s so much that she’s done that touches every part of what we do, which helps the teachers and students. We’re going to miss her.”

Health-conscious and mindful, Quigg could always be spotted around Wilson Hall with a cup of hot tea, and she made time for healthy fun while at the lab, appreciative of its expansive outdoors.

“I loved rollerblading around Main Ring Road and walking on site,” she said, adding that she also very much values her co-workers. “I will miss my colleagues and friends throughout the lab.”

Once she retires, Quigg will continue her adventures at home and abroad. She plans to continue her volunteer work, including with the League of Women Voters, attend cultural events, exercise, travel with her husband Chris, and visit her kids and grandchildren in Seattle and Philadelphia.

Say good-bye to Quigg, and enjoy punch, snacks, and cake at her farewell reception on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in Lederman Science Center.