Symposium Held at Brookhaven Lab to Honor Late Physicist Bill Willis

Bill Willis symposium attendees

Some of the friends, colleagues, and family members who attended a symposium at Brookhaven Lab on April 26 to honor the late, distinguished physicist Bill Willis.

Nearly 100 friends, colleagues, and family members of the late physicist Bill Willis traveled from across the United States, Asia, and Europe to Brookhaven Lab on April 26 for a symposium to honor Willis' scientific career. Willis was a distinguished physicist who held positions at Brookhaven Lab, CERN, and Columbia and Yale universities before his death on November 1, 2012.

"Bill was an exceptional physicist and had a towering presence in the development of particle physics," said Deputy Chair of Brookhaven's Physics Department and event coordinator Howard Gordon.

The symposium included formal talks and shorter reminiscences. After welcoming remarks from Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics Berndt Mueller, Nick Samios of the Director's Office at Brookhaven Lab spoke about Willis' early years at the Lab as a graduate student and staff member. Samios also discussed Willis' accomplishments as a professor at Yale and included some comments from Yale physicist Jack Sandweiss, concluding "Results trump credit."

Veljko Radeka of Brookhaven's Instrumentation Division recounted his 40-year, close partnership developing new detectors with Willis. Chris Fabjan of the Austrian Academy of Sciences spoke of his "golden years" working closely with Willis at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in a series of experiments. Bill Zajc of Columbia described Willis' early interest in heavy ion collisions, which culminated with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven Lab— the only remaining particle collider still operating in the United States. Barry Barish of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and International Linear Collider (ILC) spoke about Willis and his co-leadership of the GEM Experiment at the proposed Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) as well as their work together for the ILC.

Gordon then showed the critical accomplishments Willis made as U.S. ATLAS Construction Project Manager. Bob Palmer, also of Brookhaven's Physics Department, spoke of Willis' work in accelerator research and development as well as their work together on the first measurement of direct photon production. Bonnie Fleming of Yale showed Willis' contributions to the MicroBooNE and LBNE neutrino experiments. Jeremy Dodd of Columbia University explained Willis' active engagement in outreach and international collaborations.

Shorter presentations were given by David Lissauer, Tom Ludlam, Rob Pisarski, and Venetios Polychronakos of Brookhaven's Physics Department; Leslie Camilleri, John Parsons, and Mike Tuts of Columbia; Michael Albrow of Fermilab; Hubert van Hecke of Los Alamos National Laboratory; Torsten Akesson of Lund University; Brig Williams of the University of Pennsylvania; Norman McCubbin of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory for the Science & Technology Facilities Council in the United Kingdom; Barbara Jacak of Stony Brook University; Andy Lankford of the University of California-Irvine; and Bill Willis' son Tom Willis, who spoke about the strong connections between his father's family life and physics life.

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