In the middle of the summer of 1976 a newly minted physicist came to Fermilab. No one could have guessed what his diverse interests, capabilities and perseverance would develop into at the laboratory. Peter Garbincius, a.k.a. “Peter G,” received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and was a postdoc with MIT before joining the lab. Peter was a member of some of the early fixed-target experiments. After joining the lab, he led the operations, electrical, instrumentation, site support and alignment groups in the Proton Department and Experimental Areas Department. He developed a family of superconducting magnets and installed the cryogenic systems for the experimental areas in preparation for upgraded operations with the Tevatron. He later served terms as the head of the Research Division and deputy head of the Accelerator Division. Recognized for his technical and organizational skills, Peter was one of the leaders of proposals for new machines or experiments. Among these were the proposals for a bottom particle experiment (BTeV), the Very Large Hadron Collider and the International Linear Collider. In 2011, he headed the Office of Program and Project Support and the Office of Integrated Planning. He later joined the DZero experiment in 2012.
One would naturally assume that all the previous assignments would keep him completely occupied. That was surely not the case. In July 1999, Garbincius, a Batavia resident, organized the Ask-a-Scientist program to help Fermilab visitors understand the world-class science that goes on in their neighborhood and to strengthen relationships between Fermilab and community residents. Peter said, “We’ll even help with the kid’s science and math homework.” The Ask-a-Scientist program is still going strong 20 years later.
Peter went on to lead various groups working on numerous other scientific efforts ranging from a review of the German TESLA accelerator proposal to the International Linear Collider and the Muon Accelerator Program, to name a few. In his spare time, he can be found fly fishing and showing pictures of his latest catch.
On a personal note, I have worked with Peter numerous times over his career and have enjoyed exchanging technical, sports, and aviation stories with him. I’m sure he will be in to say hello periodically. There is one story that must be told in person. You’ll have to ask him about the Pink Flamingos. Good luck in your retirement Peter!
Please join us for a retirement reception for Peter on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 2-3 p.m. in the Wilson Hall second-floor crossover.
Paul Czarapata is Fermilab deputy chief engineer and associate division head for engineering and support in the Accelerator Division.