Don Cossairt retires after four decades at Fermilab

Don Cossairt

On Feb. 19, Don Cossairt will retire after nearly 42 years at Fermilab. Don joined the lab in 1978 after receiving his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Indiana University and serving as a postdoc at the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute. Initially he was hired into the Accelerator Division, but that radiation physics group was quickly reorganized into the newly formed Safety Section. Later he would serve as the senior safety officer in the Research Division, before coming back to the ESH Section in 1989. Don has the distinction of having served as the ESH Section head during the Tiger Team visit of 1992.

Don’s work at Fermilab has included operational health physics as well as research in accelerator health physics and instrumentation. He has contributed to the design and operation of nearly all Fermilab accelerators and experiments in the past four decades, including the fixed-target areas, Tevatron, Main Injector, NuMI and LBNF.

Outside Fermilab, Don has been a leader and worldwide expert in the field of accelerator health physics. In 1993 he created the first radiation protection course for the US Particle Accelerator School, which he has since taught a total of 14 times. In 2019 he co-authored a book “Accelerator Radiation Physics for Personnel and Environmental Protection,” based on USPAS teaching materials. He has served as a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, is a fellow of the Health Physics Society and was awarded the DOE Office of Science Lifetime Achievement Award in Accelerator Safety in 2015.

In recent years, Don has particularly enjoyed his role as mentor to safety professionals at Fermilab and elsewhere. Many of us greatly appreciate his insight, wisdom and humorous retelling of Fermilab lore.

As an avid hiker, photographer, college basketball fan and member of his church, Don has plenty to keep him busy. He plans to travel around the states, enjoy his family, including his two adult children and five grandchildren, continue his photography hobby and stay in touch with Fermilab colleagues. We look forward to him stopping by to let us know what he has been up to. Thanks for everything, Don!

Please join us at a retirement reception for Don on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Wilson Hall second-floor crossover.

Matthew Quinn is the laboratory senior radiation safety officer and laser safety officer.