Pier Francesco Bortignon
Pier Francesco Bortignon passed away on 27 August 2018. His passion for research and teaching, his rigorous attitude and his dauntless commitment have been an example for all of us, and it will be difficult to imagine the Department and the INFN Section without him.
Pier Francesco was born on 5 August 1948 in Bassano del Grappa (Padua). He graduated in Padua, and spent numerous periods in Copenhagen, where he successfully joined the Niels Bohr Institute that housed one of the most important schools of theoretical nuclear physics. In that environment Bortignon started to develop a dense network of international collaborations, thanks to his deep passion for scientific discussion. After being hired as a researcher in Padua he moved to Milan, first at the Department of Nuclear Engineering within the Polytechnic and then at our Department since 1991. Here he remained, first as an associate professor and then as a full professor.
Pier Francesco was a man of many interests and of vast culture, not only in the scientific domain. His research was mainly focused on the physics of the nucleus, viewed in the more general context of many-body physics. In particular, Pier Francesco was one of the pioneers of the so-called nuclear field theory based on the interaction between fermionic and bosonic degrees of freedom, and proposed a profound and original view of collective nuclear phenomena, of which he was one of the world's leading experts. His theoretical studies took great account of experimental evidence, and indeed it is crucial to underline his role as an inspirer for experimental groups in various fields, such as in the case of the study of giant resonances at finite temperature, or of multi-phonon states. Beyond his specific contributions, Pier Francesco has been one of the indispensable reference points for the entire Italian nuclear physics community in recent decades, both in the Universities and for INFN.
Pier Francesco Bortignon has been a passionate lecturer for various courses, always intent on inciting students to think, to criticize, to discuss, and assisting them with his extreme competence.
His spirit of dedication has led him to fill many institutional roles: Deputy Director of the Department, Chair of the Board of Studies, and also President of the Board of all Italian departments, member of the University Committee for Research and Spin-offs, member of the University National Committee, of program committees for various laboratories, observer for the INFN Group IV in the Group III National Scientific Committee, to mention only the most significant roles. Anyone who was close to him is well aware of his strong dedication to these tasks, even when his health conditions started to worsen.
As long as he could, Pier Francesco Bortignon was a great stimulus for many; his infinite intellectual honesty stands as a reference for us even after Pier Francesco has left.