Fermilab Today Thursday, July 24, 2008

Montgomery leaves Fermilab for director post at JLab

Hugh Montgomery, outside the New Muon Lab earlier this year.

In early mornings, late evenings and, often Sundays, you could find Hugh Montgomery working at Fermilab.

"He was happy to do it," said Peter Garbincius, who saw Mont work until 2 a.m. for nearly a three-month stretch trying to fix a radiation shielding issue.

Fermilab's associate director of research loves work almost as much as soccer. Almost. The former college player made sure meetings didn't conflict with Manchester United games.

Mont said he'll continue cheering for his team from Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility where he starts as director in September, a challenge he embraces.

He leaves behind almost 25 years of work at Fermilab where he was simply one of the team in the lab's soccer league, but a leader in nearly every other position he held. He joined the laboratory in 1983 in the Research Services Department where he worked on the support of several experiments including CDF and directly on the E665 muon scattering experiment.

He moved to head of the Computer Department for three years before spending two years on E665. Then, Peter Garbincius recruited him to serve as deputy in the Research Division.

"I asked for Mont because he took a scientist's approach as opposed to a bureaucrat's approach to problems," said Garbincius, then Research Division head. "He knows how to relate to people. People respect him and follow his leadership."

Hugh Montgomery, pictured at left, during a press conference for the top quark discovery.

Paul Grannis later recruited Mont to work on the upgrades for DZero's Run II, which required many late nights working to prepare for frequent reviews.

"One of Mont's great strengths was his attention to detail - his ability to worry about every tiny detail was second to none," said Mike Tuts, who worked with Mont on the DZero upgrade. "An even more amazing quality was his ability to answer review committees on the fly with long, at times complicated answers tinged with irony, which would leave them dazed; I have since learned that this is a very useful skill."

Although getting voted the worst-dressed DZero collaborator for his shorts and T-shirt habit, Mont's approachability, even temper and work ethic led to his election as DZero cospokesperson at the time of the top quark discovery. A week before starting to produce the top quark paper, a group of key DZero collaborators left the country for a conference.

"During that week, I suspect Mont did not sleep at all -- he made the decisions on the larger issues of our discovery paper, followed up on every small detail of the analysis, and worked to address the concerns of dozens of collaborators on our analysis," Grannis said. "His physics acumen and management skills were never more apparent than during that week. He was truly the architect of the DZero paper 'Observation of the Top Quark'. "

Most recently, as associate director of research, Mont never shied away from defending experimenters in science reviews or policy meetings and helping them in any way he could.

He gracefully took ribbings during the years about his "perfect" hair, perpetual misplacing of laser pointers and tendency to talk in long phrases.

Every once in a while, he returned the jabs.

He gave the research division $1 million in play money "to keep it going" because it often had $1million dollars more worth of good ideas than was in the budget.

Say good-bye to Mont at 3 p.m. July 28 at Kuhn Barn in the Village.

-- Tona Kunz

Fermi National Accelerator - Office of Science / U.S. Department of Energy | Managed by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC.