Wilfred E. Cleland

August 10, 1937 ~ February 20, 2019 (age 81)


Wilfred “Bill” E. Cleland was born to Robert Earl and Dorothy Voss Cleland in St. Francis, Kansas. Intrigued by physics, he completed his B.S. at Texas A&M University in 1959 and earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1964.

Following graduate school, Bill began his work as an experimental high-energy particle physicist on the complex international scientific collaborations underway at CERN, the Centre for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1967, he became an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts and an associate professor with tenure in 1969. He moved to the University of Pittsburgh as an associate professor in 1970 and was promoted to full professor in 1978. Bill continued his work at CERN on and off throughout his career and also collaborated on experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

In 1994, he joined ATLAS, a major experiment at CERN; he later founded the University of Pittsburgh ATLAS group which continues to thrive. ATLAS was one of two experiments that led to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle in 2012. Bill was honored with two lifetime achievement awards in 2018, one on behalf of the community of United States ATLAS collaborators and the other from the four current and former Liquid Argon Calorimeter project leaders within the international ATLAS collaboration which spans about 40 countries and includes 3000 scientists.

In 1966, Bill married Sigrid Pfeiffer; they shared 53 wonderful years together. His work and their shared love of travel took them to destinations across the globe. Bill was a skilled and passionate musician and loved the outdoors; he greatly enjoyed sailing. He was known for his kind, gentle manner, intelligence, diplomacy, and his warm, infectious laugh.

Bill will be sorely missed by his beloved wife, Sigrid Cleland, two daughters: Janine Cleland (Jay Fiverson) and Brigitta Cleland-Hura (DJ Cleland-Hura), and five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the University of Pittsburgh’s Physics Graduate Student and Visitor Resource Fund, Office of Institutional Advancement; 128 North Craig Street; Pittsburgh, PA 15260. A future memorial service is being planned for family, friends, and colleagues. Arrangements entrusted to the Edward P. Kanai Funeral Home, 500 Greenfield Ave. 15207.

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