21 March 2014

Tallahassee’s magneto man speaks: 10 years at the top

At the April 1 Science Café, Director Greg Boebinger will celebrate his 10th year as the MagLab’s leader by hosting Science Café at Backwoods Bistro.

By KATHLEEN LAUFENBERG

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — At the MagLab’s next Science Café, on April 1, you can meet Tallahassee’s foremost Magneto Man. No fooling.

Greg BoebingerMagLab Director Greg Boebinger.Director Greg Boebinger will celebrate his 10th year as the MagLab’s leader by hosting Science Café from 6:15 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m. at Backwoods Bistro. Come early to grab a good seat and order something tasty. This is your chance to meet the lab’s scientific commander in chief!

Boebinger will reflect on some of the lab’s biggest accomplishments during his tenure, which include:

Bringing the lab’s powerful, two-story tall MRI (magnet resonance imaging) machine online.

Overhauling the lab’s 45 tesla magnet, the most powerful magnet of its kind, so that it could run essentially non-stop at full power instead of less than an hour a day.

Building a one-of-a-kind “split” magnet that allows researchers to shoot laser beams at their experiment (aka, optics research).

He will also allow plenty of time to interact with the audience and share a few personal stories about a decade of magnetic moments.

“I plan to roll with the questions,” said Boebinger, who, unlike many laboratory directors is a scientist himself. “That’s some of the fun of this job — flying without a parachute and seeing where you land.”

Researchers at the MagLab often do the same thing, in that they perform experiments without knowing what will happen or if the outcome will have any immediate practical application. That’s because scientists at the Magnet Lab do both basic research that seeks fundamental knowledge about how the world works as well as applied research, which seeks scientific solutions to specific problems.

Boebinger — one of four sons of an Indianapolis minister and an elementary-school teacher — has always set the bar high for himself. He received not one, but three bachelor’s degrees from Purdue University: in electrical engineering, physics and philosophy. He spent a year as a graduate physics student at Cambridge University, then headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his doctorate in physics. Prior to taking the helm at the Magnet Lab, he was the director of the MagLab’s Pulsed Magnetic Field Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

It’s your time to get a peek behind the curtain. What does it take to run the world’s best high magnetic field research facility? Bring all your questions about Boebinger’s 10 years at the top.


The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is the world’s largest and highest-powered magnet facility. Located at Florida State University, the University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the interdisciplinary National MagLab hosts scientists from around the world to perform basic research in high magnetic fields, advancing our understanding of materials, energy and life. The lab is funded by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1157490) and the state of Florida. For more information, visit us online at nationalmaglab.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at NationalMagLab.