Emeritus Scientist John Tompkins has passed away

John Tompkins, a longtime Fermilab employee, died after a long illness. The obituary is posted here.

John attended UCLA through undergraduate and graduate school and earned a PH.D. in Physics, specifically High Energy Physics. He worked in the Soviet Union as a part of the first scientific exchange between the US and USSR during the cold war in the 70’s; then worked at Stanford University for 12 years; was a core developer of the Super Conducting Super Collider Project and then scientist at Fermilab for 20+ years. John ended his career a few years ago and was awarded the status of Emeritus Scientist at Fermilab. The last half of John’s career was spent pioneering the science of superconducting magnets that eventually powered the detector at CERN (Switzerland) that allowed for the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. John worked with colleagues from all over the world and developed a love of learning about people and cultures near and far.”

He’s been everywhere. All of us should aspire to such a full career.

For those of us who had the pleasure of working with him, some of us hired by him, we remember him as so gracious and mentoring.

We are all the worse for his loss and we mourn with his loved ones. He was such a welcoming, creative, and inclusive figure in our field.

“Gracious is not often mentioned about physicists, but he was. I had the privilege of being hired into the group when I joined Fermilab. He was a complete team builder, didn’t need any personal credit, just wanted us to succeed in our personal and group tasks. Always he was willing to take time to talk whether technical or personal. John was a prominent member of the small magnet family. We all know he loved his family; I often heard him talk about them.”

-Phil Schlabach