Vinod (Nick) Chohan (1949 – 2017)


Nick came to CERN first in 1975 as a fellow, then went to SIN (today PSI) near Zürich. In 1980 he returned to CERN, as a machine-supervisor at the PS-Division’s Operation Group. At that time, the construction of the Antiproton Accumulator (AA, the world’s first machine to produce, accumulate and store antiprotons) was just finished and the team who had built it was busy with its running-in. The purpose of the AA was to supply antiprotons to the SPS, for it to function as a proton-antiproton collider. This needed to be done in an operational way and Nick became a prominent member of the AA operations team. His specialty was the controls aspects of the highly complicated processes within the AA and for the transfer of the antiprotons to the SPS. Simon van der Meer, inventor of stochastic cooling, on which the AA was based, had written himself practically all the software, of course in a highly sophisticated style. Nick became the only one to fully understand it and later extend it to the Antiproton Collector (AC) and convert it for integration into the PS controls system.

When, in 1991, the PS Beam Diagnostics (BD) Group was founded, he was the natural choice to become the Section-Leader for Systems Integration with the PS controls. In 1996, when the high-energy, collider part, of CERN’s antiproton programme was terminated, Nick took on the additional responsibility of PS Divisional Safety officer.

Then, in 2002, he became heavily involved in the LHC project. Nick moved to the Accelerator Technology (AT) Division, where he led a team that first tested an LHC prototype-sector and then all of the 1706 superconducting bending magnets. CERN manpower was insufficient, but a collaboration with India, managed by Nick, made it possible.

Once the LHC became operational, Nick returned to his old affinity with antiprotons, now at the low-energy end of the programme, as editor of the ELENA Design Report.

In 2014, the 65-year bell rang in his retirement. But for Nick, that was not a reason to stop work at CERN. He joined the CERN Scientific Information Service and provided highly welcome help on accelerator physics literature, photographic documentation and articles for Wikipedia.

Throughout his years at CERN, we all knew Nick as a friendly, easy-going man, always helpful and dedicated in his typical competent manner.

We are deeply moved by his sudden disappearance and shall hold on to the memory of the many good moments and years of collaboration and friendship that we shared with him.

His friends and colleagues

White board in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai (India) with messages of condolence from Nick Chohan's former colleagues, who worked with him on testing the LHC superconducting magnets in the SM18 test facility. "It was indeed a big shock to all of us who worked at the SM-18 test facility to hear about the untimely death of Dr. Vinod Chohan. We had a small get together to share our reminiscences with him. About 32 of our colleagues from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Mumbai attended. He was such a pillar of support for each one of us. We will miss him very dearly." – Mr. Daniel Babu

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