In memoriam: Simone Marcocci

Disponibile in Italiano

Fermilab postdoc Simone Marcocci died on Aug. 7 at age 30.

He was born in Savona, Italy, in 1989.

He proved to be an extraordinary and brilliant student from an early age, to the point of being honored with the title of “Alfiere del Lavoro” in 2008, an award reserved to the 25 most talented high school students in the whole of Italy.

Simone received his Master of Science in physics at the University of Genova in 2013, working on an R&D setup to test liquid scintillators doped with xenon at high pressure for future-generation neutrinoless double beta decay experiments. He received his Ph.D. in 2016 from the Gran Sasso Science Institute working on Borexino for his thesis titled “Precision Measurement of Solar Neutrino Fluxes with Borexino and Prospects for 0νββ Search with 136Xe-Loaded Liquid Scintillators,” concentrating on Monte Carlo simulation and the solar neutrino analysis. He also did some phenomenological studies on double beta decay. For his outstanding work in astroparticle physics in his thesis, which was the most precise measurement to date of low-energy solar neutrino fluxes by the Borexino experiment, he was awarded the Bruno Rossi Prize in 2018.

  • Simone Marcocci worked on all three short-baseline neutrino experiments at Fermilab: MicroBooNE, ICARUS and SBND. Photo: Anne Schukraft
Simone joined the Fermilab Neutrino Division as a postdoc in March 2017. He worked on all three short-baseline neutrino experiments: MicroBooNE, ICARUS, and SBND. His main contribution to ICARUS was the development of an optical readout for the cosmic tagger modules and the simulation and performance testing of these scintillator modules with the new SiPM readout. These modules are currently being installed in the ICARUS building, and the success of this project is in large part due to Simone’s smart ideas, creativity and hard work. In this role, Simone worked with many visiting students and interns, who very much appreciated his inspiring mentorship. In 2018, Simone served as run coordinator for the MicroBooNE experiment and did an outstanding job of coordinating smooth operations and upgrades to the detector. He also made many contributions to the reconstruction and analysis of MicroBooNE neutrino data, including MicroBooNE’s first physics results to be published in Physical Review Letters, a paper which will be dedicated to Simone. In 2019, he helped with assembling components of the SBND detector, the next LArTPC experiment to be installed at Fermilab.

Simone had a very broad interest in all things neutrino: Many know him from his roles as co-organizer of the Neutrino Seminar series, the Neutrino University summer lectures, and the weekly Neutrino Social at the Users Center. He had a strong passion for outreach and in particular loved to explain science to children visiting the lab. He participated in many events for the public, such as the Fermilab 50th anniversary Community Open House and the Fermilab Family Open House. It was his wish that instead of sending flowers for his memorial, friends and colleagues make donations to the Fermilab Friends for Science Education. The Tree of Knowledge at the Lederman Science Center now includes a bronze leaf with Simone’s name engraved as a memory of our wonderful colleague. The center will also soon feature a new neutrino exhibit dedicated to Simone.

Simone will be missed by us as a talented and dedicated physicist, wonderful co-worker and dear friend. He always had a smile for everyone and original ideas for solving any physics problems we were facing. At the same time he was a very social guy, frequently animating after-work hours at the Users Center and promoting barbecues or more crazy initiatives to gather together. Many of us will remember the positive interactions with Simone during his time at the lab, and his passion for physics, Fermilab, and its community.

Angela Fava and Anne Schukraft are Fermilab scientists working on the Short-Baseline Neutrino Program experiments.