Vision to Reality: From Robert R. Wilson's Frontier to Leon M. Lederman's Fermilab

Lillian Hoddeson, Adrienne Kolb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We examine the roles of vision and leadership in creating and directing Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory from the late 1960s through the 1980s. The story divides into two administrations having different problems and accomplishments, that of Robert R. Wilson from 1967-1978, which saw the transformation from cornfield to frontier physics facility, and that of Leon M. Lederman from 1979-1989, in which the laboratory evolved into one of the world's major high-energy facilities. Lederman's pragmatic vision of a user-based experimental community helped him to convert the pioneering facility that Wilson had built frugally into a laboratory with a stable scientific, cultural, and funding environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-86
Number of pages20
JournalPhysics in Perspective
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Big science
  • Fermilab
  • High-energy physics
  • Laboratory
  • Leon M. Lederman
  • Particle accelerator
  • Robert R. Wilson

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Vision to Reality: From Robert R. Wilson's Frontier to Leon M. Lederman's Fermilab'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this