In memoriam: Steven C. Pieper
Argonne Associate Steven C. Pieper passed away this week. He was a long-time member of the Physics division, having arrived in 1972 as a postdoctoral research associate, and staying on as an assistant physicist (1974), physicist (1978) and senior physicist (1996) before “retiring” in 2011. He co-authored more than 100 papers and remained very active, with more than 20 of those papers coming after becoming a “self-endowed researcher.” Pieper was also one of the best-known computational physicists at Argonne, playing an important role in developing the Speakez computer language, the Ptolemy program for direct reaction calculations, and being a leading early user (and debugger) of many successive laboratory computers, especially the parallel machines starting with the IBM-SP1 up to the current front-line Mira and Theta machines. He was looking forward to working on the next-generation exascale Aurora.
Pieper received his B.S. from the University of Rochester in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970, followed by a postdoc position at Case Western Reserve. At Argonne in the mid-1970s, he collaborated with Malcolm Macfarlane and Mark Rhoades-Brown to develop Ptolemy, initially for heavy-ion reactions, but later used also for light-ion rare-isotope reaction studies.
In the early 1980s he began a long-running collaboration with Argonne postdoc Bob Wiringa and Vijay Pandharipande from the University of Illinois, using quantum Monte Carlo methods to study many-body problems ranging from atomic helium clusters to light nuclei and neutron drops.
In 2000, Pieper and Wiringa shared the University of Chicago Medal for Distinguished Performance at Argonne National Laboratory, along with Pieper’s long-time collaborator Rusty Lusk.
Later, Pieper and Wiringa shared the 2010 American Physical Society Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy selected a 1997 paper by Illinois student Brian Pudliner, Pandharipande, Carlson, Pieper and Wiringa as one of the 40 Office of Science Research Milestones over the past 40 years.
Pieper is survived by his wife Gail, a technical editor in MCS, and daughters Kirsten, Kara and Shannon. There will be no public services.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Physical Society in honor of Pieper are suggested.