I was born Ottawa, Canada, and, except for first grade, lived there until I graduated from St. Pius X high school. My father, who was a research chemist, had a sabbatical during the year that I was in first grade, during which our family lived in London, in the UK. I caught the travelling bug that year. I caught the science bug the next year.
I received my undergrad degree from McMaster University. During several summers of my undergrad years I worked for the High Energy Physics group at the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada. For part of that time I helped to assemble and survey a device called a Time Projection Chamber. A great name but it has nothing to do with time travel. Some of this work was done in Vancouver British Columbia. One of my favourite small world moments occurred while hiking two days into the interior of BC. I signed in at one of the sign-in stations and discovered that I had missed a friend from home by only a few hours!
I began graduate school at the University of Toronto, sure that I wanted to work in experimental High Energy Physics (HEP) but unsure which experiment I wanted to work on. A few months later, a group from Toronto joined the ARGUS experiment at DESY, a HEP lab in Hamburg Germany. They had no difficulty recruiting me: not only was the physics exciting but I would get to spend a few years in Europe! My Ph.D. thesis describes the first observation of a new charmed-strange meson; another great name!
My next job was as a post doc for the physics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working on an experiment named CLEO, which was located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. As absurd as it might seem to many, I lobbied hard to maximize my time in upstate New York and to minimize my time in sunny California. I wanted to be in the middle of the action. Unlike the names of many HEP experiments, CLEO is not an acronym; it just goes well with CESR, the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, at which the detector is located. ( I am watching that Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie as I write this!)
I came to Fermilab in 1996 to work on two experiments, the FOCUS experiment, which was then taking data and is now finishing its last few publications, and the BTeV experiment, which was then beginning its design phase. The key to BTeV was two game-changing technologies that we strove to master and to be the first to exploit in an HEP experiment. Just when we thought that BTeV was on the cusp of final approval, it was cancelled by the Department of Energy, in the mass extinction of 2005.
I next worked on a variety of projects at Fermilab while looking for the next big thing. Of those projects I am still a minor participant in the effort to design a detector, named SiD, for the proposed International Linear Collider.
In September 2008 I joined the Mu2e Collaboration, which is designing an experiment to look for a very, very rare decay of an elementary particle named a muon. Like BTeV, Mu2e has the twin attractions of exciting science and the chance to get in on the ground floor or a new detector. If all goes well, we will start building the Mu2e apparatus in 2012 and start taking data in 2016 or 2017. I can't wait to see this data.
I am the eldest of 4 siblings, with a brother in Dallas, a sister in Shanghai and a sister in Ottawa. My wife, Wanda grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, and works as part time faculty at Columbia College in Chicago, teaching math to students whose main interests lie decidedly elsewhere! She is a former professional bridge player; I only play kitchen bridge.