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Prentice, James D.
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James Prentice came to the University of Toronto in 1959 upon completing his Ph.D. in Physics at Glasgow University. His early career concentrated in the area of nuclear physics that included numerous publications in collaboration with Kenneth McNeill (see B1994-0004) and a short stint at Chalk River in the summer of 1962. A sabbatical at the Rutherford High Energy Laboratory in 1963-64 marked a turning point as his research interests shifted to the study of particle physics.
Through the remainder of the 1960s up until about 1972, he, along with University of Toronto colleague Dick Steenberg, participated in the Bubble Chamber experiments at the U.S. Argonne National Laboratory, thus becoming Canadian pioneers in the experimental high energy physics. In 1969, they were responsible for having POLLY, an automatic measuring machine, the first of its kind in Canada, installed at the University of Toronto. By 1972, the high energy physics (HEP) group at the University of Toronto was growing and included T.S. Yoon, Tony Key and Ed West.
Prof. Prentice was a member of several international research teams. In the early 1970s, he conducted experiments at the National Accelerator Laboratory (later Fermi NAL, the world’s largest accelerator at Batavia Illinois). There, he was involved in an ongoing experiment to measure the scattering of high energy photons on protons (E25a), the results of which are still consulted in the Particle Data Table. In the late 1970s, he was part of a team that was the first worldwide to successfully measure the lifetime of charmed particles (E531). Throughout the 1980s he was active in the ARGUS Collaboration at the Deutsches Elekronen Synchrotrone (DESY) in Germany of which he published widely.
Apart from his research in high energy physics, Prof. Prentice also taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level, supervising nearly twenty doctoral graduates. He also taught popular physics courses through the School of Continuing Education. He has been an active member of several social and peace activist groups including Science for Peace, Canadian Concerned Scientists and Faculty Committee on Vietnam. In 1995, he retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Toronto, moving to Victoria B.C. with his wife and historian Alison Prentice. He died 16 January 2018.