Birmingham Professor who helped discover Higgs boson particle recognised for his leadership in experimental physics

The Institute of Physics has awarded Birmingham Particle Physicist Professor David Charlton the Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize in recognition of his leadership in experimental particle physics, which culminated in his contribution to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012.

Professor David Charlton is one of the leading contemporary experimental particle physics in the UK, and is highly regarded internationally. His distinguished achievements in particle physics have underpinned the experimental confirmation of the Standard Model over the past three decades.

Professor Charlton said 'It is a pleasure and honour to be awarded this medal and prize. The nature of experimental particle physics is intrinsically collaborative, and it has been a privilege to lead the work of such a large global collaboration as ATLAS in the recent past. Throughout, the university and the physics department have provided a supportive environment for my, and the group's, engagement in ATLAS at CERN. This builds on decades of leading particle physics research by Birmingham scientists.'

The discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012 is one of the great scientific achievements of the 21st Century so far. The existence of the particle explains why some fundamental particles have mass. The discovery of the Higgs Boson resolved the last unverified part of the Standard Model of particle physics, which scientist had worked on since the mid-20th Century.

From early searches for the top quark, through wide-ranging measurements of weak gauge boson properties and most recently in the discovery and characterisation of the Higgs boson, Charlton has been a central figure in the building, data collection, analysis and leadership of energy frontier particle physics experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), one of the world's largest and most respected centres for scientific research.

For four years from 2013, Charlton served as head of the ATLAS Collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. ATLAS is a global collaboration of 3,000 scientists. The Large Hadron Collider has undergone a significant upgrade since the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012, allowing it to continue to make further discoveries in the field of particle physics.

The Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize is one of the Institute of Physics’ most prestigious awards. Every year since 1983 the Institute has issued the award for outstanding and sustained contributions to leadership in a physics context. Charlton will receive his Medal and a £1,000 Prize at an awards ceremony in November.  

Since completing his term as Head of ATLAS (Spokesperson), Professor Charlton has returned to work closely with the Birmingham ATLAS group. The group are currently looking at the properties of the Higgs boson, as the discovery was just the start of the exploration of its properties, more specifically how it is produced, how it decays, and whether there are processes involving the Higgs particle which give hints on other new physics.This is a long-term programme which will continue for a couple more decades at the LHC. During this time, a large upgrade will be made to the ATLAS experiment, and the team in Birmingham are strongly involved in preparations for this.