Professor Peter Watkins BSc, PhD

Professor Peter Watkins

School of Physics and Astronomy
Associate Professor

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Peter Watkins is a member of the Particle Physics group and has worked for many years on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

He has worked on a wide variety of experiments at CERN involving both precision measurements and searches for new particles.

He is also very active in Outreach and gives many public lectures on Particle Physics and the LHC. 



  • PhD in Particle Physics, University of Birmingham, 1969 
  • BSc (1st class Hons)  Physics, University of Birmingham , 1966


Pete Watkins studied Physics at the University of Birmingham and obtained his PhD in Particle Physics after working on bubble chamber experiments at CERN. These experiments discovered many short-lived hadrons which we now know contain quarks. These collision energies were around one thousand times smaller than he now studies in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider(LHC).

He worked on the first experiment to publish results from the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron and when this accelerator was converted into a proton antiproton collider he worked on the Nobel prize winning UA1 experiment.

This discovered the W and Z bosons and he wrote a book 'Story of the W and Z' aimed at a general audience.

He wrote much of the software with a few colleagues to visualise the matter-antimatter collisions which aided the first identification of the massive bosons.

Detailed measurements of the W and Z bosons were made by later experiments at the Large Electron Positron Collider(LEP) where he worked on the OPAL experiment. Here the Birmingham team constructed the 12m by 12m muon detectors and electronics which selected (or triggered) the recording of the most interesting collisions and analysed the recorded data. 

For the past decade he has been working on the calorimeter trigger, event visualisation and physics analysis for the ATLAS experiment. Most recently contributing to the publication of the chib3p observation which was the first new particle discovered at the LHC.

Peter was the head of the Birmingham Particle Physics group for many years. He is the ATLAS UK Outreach coordinator and the UK representative on the International Particle Physics Outreach Group.

He has initiated many different Outreach activities and competitions throughout his career and gives many talks each year on Particle Physics and the LHC aimed at a non-specialist audience.


Particle physics experiments; CERN; LHC; structure of matter – the smallest particles and fundamental forces

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