After 21 years at Fermilab exploring the cosmic frontier, Dan Bauer retires

Dan Bauer

Although astrophysicist Dan Bauer’s career has taken him around the country, and through some of the universe’s biggest questions, he’ll finish where he started — at Fermilab. After a total of 21 years as a Fermilab employee, Bauer is retiring, and his last day is Jan. 28.

Bauer arrived at Fermilab as a graduate student in 1976, working on his Ph.D. thesis. In 1979, he was employed at Fermilab as a postdoc. For two years, he worked alongside scientists Tom Kirk and John Cooper. In 1981, he followed Cooper to the University of Pennsylvania. Bauer then spent 18 years at the University of California-Santa Barbara and SLAC before returning to Fermilab in 2002 to manage the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiments at Soudan.

Eventually, Fermilab scientists Rocky Kolb, Michael Turner and Craig Hogan recruited Bauer to play a major role in forming the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics, which was responsible for cosmic frontier activities at the lab. Bauer served as deputy director of FCPA from 2009 to 2015.

2015 was also the year the CDMS experiments at Soudan concluded.

For the past five years or so, Bauer has turned his attention toward realizing the next generation of light dark matter search experiments, including SuperCDMS SNOLAB and HVeV@NEXUS (located in the MINOS underground area at Fermilab).

A vivid memory that remains with him is going underground after the fire in 2011 at the Soudan Underground Mine at the University of Minnesota, assessing the damage and working to help figure out how to revive the experiments. That somber experience stands in contrast to most Bauer had at Fermilab.

“I have so many great memories of the people I’ve worked with here,” Bauer said of his time at Fermilab. “But communicating with the general public about the research has always been special for me.”

Projects he collaborated on to explain science to the public included outreach days at Soudan, participating in filming TV shows about dark matter experiments, and Dark Matter Day.

Bauer’s colleagues speak admirably of his many contributions to Fermilab over the years as a scientist, a project leader, colleague and friend.

“Dan’s leadership of CDMS and SuperCDMS over many years and of the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics have been critical to establishing Fermilab as a major center of dark matter and more broadly of cosmic research,” said Particle Physics Division Head Josh Frieman. “On behalf of the Particle Physics Division, it’s been a pleasure learning from Dan, who has impressed us with his passion, diligence and dedication to the lab and its astrophysics programs.”

In retirement, Bauer plans to pursue amateur astronomy and electronics, and, yes, home projects. But, above all, he wants to spend his time giving back to the broader community.

“I’m not sure how that will play out yet, but I am looking for ways to use my experience in service to others,” he said.