In Memoriam: Thomas Ferbel

Thomas Ferbel.

We are saddened to bring the news that our friend and colleague Tom Ferbel died at home on March 13, 2022, at age 84.

Tom was active in experiments at Fermilab from the very beginning back in the 1970s when he worked on one of the original bubble chamber experiments. He was part of the E706 direct photon experiment in the 1990s and from then until now a member of the DZero experiment at the Tevatron collider.

In DZero, Tom was a central player in the discovery of the top quark and in the studies that followed to elucidate its properties. He had a keen interest in all aspects of particle physics and delighted in conversations about new ideas.

Perhaps Tom’s most enduring achievement was his mentorship of a very large number of physicists, young and old, and his friendship with a very broad segment of the high-energy physics community. His warm and engaging personality helped keep the DZero collaboration together as a group of human beings as much as a scientific organization. Tom was a friend and mentor to a very large number of Fermilab staff and users. There was even at one time a popular t-shirt that read “FerbelLab.”

Until his retirement in about 2005, he was a faculty member at the University of Rochester. He then served a stint at the DOE, overseeing LHC experiments. Since 2006, Tom has engaged in the CMS experiment at the LHC as a visiting professor at the University of Maryland.

Many in the CMS collaboration remember Tom as a relentless editor. His trademark insistence on the clarity of language as he defined it made CMS publications models of high style. Tom’s passion about the quality of presentation of physics results stemmed from his great and broad interest in science.

A 2020 interview with Tom by the American Institute of Physics can be found at Oral History Interviews – Thomas Ferbel – American Institute of Physics.