Lee C. Teng, eminent physicist, passed at 95

Lee Chang-Li Teng, a theoretical physicist who contributed to and designed many particle-accelerator-based projects around the globe, passed away peacefully in hospice care on Friday morning, June 24, 2022. He was 95.

He was born in Beijing, China, on Sept. 5, 1926. He is the beloved husband of Nancy Lai-Shen (nee Huang) since their marriage in Chicago on Sept. 21, 1961. He is the loving father of Dr. Michael Teng, loving father-in-law of Kim (nee Tran) Teng, and the loving grandfather of Isabella Teng. He is the loving uncle, cousin, colleague and friend to many.

He is preceded in death by his parents – father Tsuy-Ying Teng and mother Chien-Min (nee Ho) Teng; his brothers Chien-Fei Teng, Chien-Chung Teng, George Chang-Ming Teng, and Cesar Chang-Kuo Teng; his sisters Phyllis Shu-Yuen (nee Teng) Chu and Lily Shu-Chiang (nee Teng) Shu; and his in-laws Chi-lu and Jing-fen (nee Chang) Huang.

Lee received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the Fu-Jen University in Beijing in 1946. After emigrating to the United States in 1947, he received his master’s and Ph.D. also in physics from the University of Chicago in 1948 and 1951, respectively. He was the Ph.D. student of Gregor Wentzel, and the title of his dissertation was “Polarization of Vector Mesons Produced in Nucleon-Nucleon Collisions.” He worked for Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, who was also on his dissertation committee.

He held academic positions right after his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and at Wichita State University. He was recruited to Argonne National Laboratory and subsequently to Fermilab, where he held an array of scientific leadership positions. During this time, he was also the inaugural director of Taiwan’s Synchrotron Radiation Research Center. He contributed to the design, operation and upgrades of many particle accelerators for science, including the zero-gradient synchrotron (Argonne), entire accelerator complex at Fermilab, the Taiwan Synchrotron, and the Advanced Photon Source (Argonne). He also designed and help deliver the first proton therapy machine in the United States to Loma Linda, California, that has helped numerous battle and/or cure their cancer.

He also mentored early-career individuals and was always interested in educating his co-workers at all levels of training in particle accelerators. He gave lectures to the Argonne staff, as well as at the United States Particle Accelerator School. He was recognized by his colleagues and received the designation of American Physical Society Fellow in 1957 and the Robert Wilson Prize of the American Physical Society in 2007. Robert Wilson was a close colleague to Lee and the principal architect of Fermilab.

There is also an internship program at both Fermilab and Argonne that will continue to honor Lee and his contributions to science and education for future generations – an excellent way to attract your scientists and engineers into the world of accelerators.

He provided caringly for his wife and son. Together, they made certain that Michael had an excellent education and career path. He lovingly welcomed his daughter-in-law Kim into their family as well as his granddaughter Isabella (Bella). He loved the rest of his extended family and treated all of them as if they were his own. He also welcomed his colleagues and other friends as his extended family, always hosting along with Nancy parties, dinners or going-out events (e.g. concerts, museums) for his friends.

His smile was contagious, which made it easy for him to make and keep friends as well as work globally.

He will be sorely missed by his family and friends as he moves on to build his dream accelerators in the heavens.

There will be a memorial for Lee’s family and friends on Saturday, July 9, 2022, at 10 a.m. at the Chinese Christian Mandarin Church, 9S565 Clarendon Hills Rd., Willowbrook, IL 60527. The interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Lee to St. Jude, Second Harvest or the American Physical Society.