In Memoriam: Michael P. Schmidt
By Mike Zeller
Professor Michael P. Schmidt, high energy elementary particle physicist, died on November 18. He was born on January 18, 1954 in Los Angeles, CA., and his family moved to San Jose, CA where he attended public schools. He graduated from The University of California, Berkeley in 1975 with a B.S. degree with Highest Honors and Great Distinction in General Scholarship. He received his PhD from Yale where he wrote his dissertation on CP violation in K meson decays.
Michael Schmidt remained at Yale where he advanced from a post doctoral position to Full Professor. In 1986 he received a Sloan Foundation fellowship. In his early research he collaborated with Robert Adair concentrating on K decays. These studies, done at Brookhaven, included CP violation through the muon decay mode, epsilon prime/epsilon measurements, and searches for rare decay modes of the Kaon.
In 1991 he joined the CDF collaboration at Fermilab with an interest in collider physics in general, and specifically in B physics. He designed and built the trigger system which is central to the operation of the detector. He co-authored some 300 papers. He rose in that collaboration to becoming leader and co-convener of several efforts of the collaboration. Because of his background in CP violation in K decays, his interest at colliders was always in that phenomenon in the B sector. With his colleague at Yale, Colin Gay, he lately led in the analysis the writing of a seminal paper on the lifetime differences between the heavy and light Bs mesons.
With the building of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Michael joined the ATLAS collaboration in 2003. At ATLAS he was Yale’s institutional representative and he was in the Transition Radiation Tracker group . With his group at Yale he designed and built critical electronic components for the tracker system.
Michael was a member of national committees charting the future of High Energy Physics in the United States, most recently the Particle Physics Prioritization Panel. He was also on committees advising other institutions about their plans. At Yale he served in several ways, from Director of Graduate Studies for the Physics Department to membership on the Yale College Executive Committee. He was recently named a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
He is survived by his parents and son and daughter, Julia and Daniel.
Michael had a searching intellect and a deep interest in physics. He was a gifted instrumentalist and physicist. Those who knew him were fortunate to have drawn from his wisdom and creativity. He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues.