Michael P. Schmidt (1954-2007)

Michael P. Schmidt, Professor of Physics (1954-2007)
November 25, 2007

Professor Michael P. Schmidt, high energy elementary particle physicist, died on November 18. He was born 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 Ph.D. from Yale for a dissertation on CP violation in K meson decays.

Michael Schmidt remained at Yale as 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 Yale professor Robert Adair on K decays. These studies included CP violation through the muon decay mode, e’/e measurements, and searches for rare decay modes of the Kaon.

In 1991 he joined the CDG collaboration at Fermilab, bringing his interest in collider physics in general and a specific interest in B physics. He designed and built the trigger system that is central to the operation of the detector. He co-authored some 300 papers. He rose in the CDF collaboration to becoming leader and co-convener of several efforts of the collaboration. His interest was always in B physics, and with his colleague at Yale, Professor Colin Gay, he recently led a paper on the lifetime differences between the heavy and light Bs mesons.

Turning his attention to the large Hadron Collider at CERN, Professor Schmidt joined the ATLAS collaboration in 2003. At ATLAS he was Yale’s institutional representative and he was in the Transition Radiation Tracker group. His group at Yale designed and built critical electronic components for the tracker system.

Professor Schmidt 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 elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His colleagues and friends at Yale recognized him for this honor with a champagne toast and reception on October 16.

Michael Schmidt is survived by his parents and a 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.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Yale Health Plan In-Patient Care Facility (check payable to Yale University) to the attention of Dr. Paul Genecin, Director of Yale University Health Services, P.O. Box 208237, New Haven, CT 06520-8237; or to CT Hospice, 100 Double Beach Rd., Branford, CT 06405.