Paul Norman qualified with a BSc (Hons) in Theoretical Physics in 1995 from the University of Exeter. He went on to study the MSc in Physics & Technology of Nuclear Reactors at the University of Birmingham (the course that he now runs) and graduated there in 1996. Following this, he stayed on at Birmingham to do a PhD in the nuclear/particle physics area – finishing his PhD in particle physics at the very end of 1999.
At the start of 2000, Dr Norman began his first postdoctoral position within the nuclear physics group at Birmingham, working on the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Lab in the USA. He was the first person to find the rare Xi and Omega particles at Brookhaven’s RHIC facility – the latter of which had in fact been thought impossible to find with the first year's experimental set-up which was being used. At the end of 2000 he took a 3-year postdoc within the Particle physics group at Birmingham, following up on work from his PhD – where his results had been central to the CERN announcement in February 2000 that the Quark Gluon Plasma state of matter (sometimes called the “4th state of matter”) had been observed at CERN, in what was probably the biggest CERN announcement for ~20 years.
At the end of 2003, Dr Norman took a lectureship back in the Nuclear physics group to run the MSc course in Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors. He has since been promoted from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer, then to Reader, and finally to full Professor in 2022. During this time, he has seen by far the largest student intakes on the MSc course ever (in a course which has run since 1956), having graduated over 600 MSc students during his time in post. Professor Norman currently lectures on such topics as Reactor Physics, Reactor Kinetics, Reactor Systems, Neutron Transport, Heat Transfer in Reactor Fuel, and Nuclear Waste. He has supervised PhDs in particle physics, nuclear waste assay, nuclear fusion, reactor modelling, and radiation transport (the latter including applications to both nuclear robotics and towards optimising nuclear materials selection).