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Jon Bashor Retires After 27 Years of Service to National Labs

Jon Bashor accepts a 2017 Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement from Associate Lab Director Kathy Yelick.

LBNL Communications Manager Jon Bashor has announced his retirement after 27 years with the national lab system, 21 of those at Berkeley Lab promoting computing, networking and mathematics. He has also been a key figure behind the SC conference series.

As communications manager, Jon has been key to the visibility of Berkeley Lab’s computing program, both through written articles and other material produced by Jon and his team and his community leadership—including several years of organizing the DOE booth at SC, the annual supercomputing conference,” said Associate Lab Director Kathy Yelick. “Beyond that, he has been very active in outreach and community building, not only with local high schools, but also within the lab itself, creating STEM workshops for kids, creating and co-chairing an employee resource group to advocate for a more accessible campus and much more.”

For his career-long efforts, Bashor was recently recognized with a 2017 Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement.

I love this job. I love the people. I’m just tired of coming to work everyday,” chuckles Bashor, who intends to step up his volunteer work with Kennedy High School’s IT Academy, the Friends of El Cerrito Library and the Turnabout thrift shop after retirement. “There might also be some days I just stay home and pet my cat,” he said.

Bashor was hired at Berkeley Lab in 1997 by then NERSC Director Horst Simon. During the job interview, he recounts, Simon asked him to name one important thing that happened in high-performance computing over the last year. Bashor, who still describes himself as “the least technical person in the room,” could only summon up the recent death of HPC pioneer Seymour Cray, of Cray Computer fame. That was enough to seal the deal, “because nobody else [applying for the job] could come up with even that,” he laughed.

But technical knowledge isn’t what made Bashor successful, said Simon: “He is a keen and witty observer. That’s what made him successful as a communicator,” and a lot of fun to work with.

It was Simon who encouraged Bashor to keep a “book of quotes,” funny (sometimes Dilbertian) utterances encountered in the line of duty. Simon shared one of his own: “It’s nobody’s responsibility, so it becomes everybody’s panic.” In the same spirit, Bashor also jokingly signs all his emails “Tam difficile non debet,” schoolboy Latin for “It shouldn’t be that difficult.”

Jon Bashor (center back row) poses with other organizers of National Lab Day 2016 and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (center front row). Bashor led the computing component of the display.

Still, Bashor has taken his role as an advocate for the national labs very seriously. In 2016, he was asked to organize the computing portion of National Lab Day, an educational expo held for Congress, where he was photographed in the rear of a group with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz: “I think that particular photo reflects the nature of our job: to work behind the scenes and help researchers—or a DOE secretary—to be recognized for their work,” Bashor said.

I like making connections and I think I’m good at it,” said Bashor. Judging by his post-retirement plans, he’s going to keep on doing what he’s good at.

As for what’s next, he’s serving as communications chair for Friends of El Cerrito Library and the Turnabout thrift store, which funds dental and orthodontia care for East Bay kids in need. He’s also developing a study module for the Kennedy High School IT Academy. And, for all our sakes, let’s hope he keeps on making big, delicious batches of plum jam to share.

Source: LBNL

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