Dr Alan Watson BA, PhD

Dr Alan Watson

School of Physics and Astronomy
Reader in Particle Physics

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Alan Watson is a Reader in Particle Physics. He leads the Birmingham teams working on the DUNE experiment at the Fermilab Long Baseline Neutrino Facility. He is also UK project leader for the first-level calorimeter trigger for the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, and is a former leader of the Birmingham ATLAS team. 

He is co-author of approximately 1, 800 research papers in the field of experimental particle physics.

He is an enthusiastic communicator of particle physics, and has given talks to local schools, local and national media.


  • PhD in Experimental Particle Physics, Imperial College, 1989

  • BA (Hons) in Physics, Oxford University, 1985


Alan joined the Birmingham group in 1989, working on the OPAL experiment. Here he was responsible for the data acquisition system for the Muon Endcap detector built by the Birmingham group, and studied electro-weak and heavy flavour physics.

Between 1998 and 2008 he worked on the BaBar experiment at SLAC, studying decays of B mesons to 3-body charmless states.

In 1991 he started working on preparation for the Large Hadron Collider, joining the Eagle proto-collaboration, which later merged with another team to become ATLAS. His main work has been on the design of the first level calorimeter trigger for ATLAS (L1Calo), particularly algorithm design and physics functionality, and upgrades for higher luminosity running. He is the L1Calo project leader within the UK, and was overall L1Calo offline software coordinator until 2019. He has studied heavy flavour and Higgs physics at ATLAS, and was leader of the Birmingham ATLAS team from 2011-2017.

In 2016 he joined the DUNE experiment at the Fermilab Long Baseline Neutrino Facility, leading a Birmingham team working on different aspects of the data-acquisition system and preparing for physics studies when the experiment starts operating in the mid-2020s.


Alan has taught a wide range of core undergraduate modules, including first and second year Quantum Mechanics, second year Mathematics, Classical Mechanics and Particles & Nuclei, second and third year Laboratory, third year Scientific Computing, third & fourth year Critiques and fourth year physics Projects. He is a first year academic and personal tutor and third year pastoral tutor. He has also taught in the laboratory module of the MSc in Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors. 

He has served as Head of Year for both the first and fourth years of the undergraduate programmes, and as a member of the School's Education Committee, Syllabus Committee and Staff-Student Committee.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Alan has supervised more than 15 PhDs in Particle Physics, between the OPAL, BaBar and ATLAS experiments.



  • New Physics Searches, Top and Heavy Flavour Physics

  • Particle physics experiment design


  • Neutrino physics

  • Data acquisition for neutrino experiments

  • Trigger design and optimisation for the LHC

  • Top physics and searches at the LHC

  • Precision electroweak physics


Full publications list automatically maintained via the INSPIRE web site", https://inspirehep.net/authors/983992

The ATLAS Collaboration, Aad, G et. al. (2011), Measurement of inclusive jet and dijet cross sections in proton-proton collisions at 7 TeV centre-of-mass energy with the ATLAS detector, EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL C, Volume: 71   Issue: 2   Article Number: 1512

The ATLAS Collaboration, Aad, G et. al. (2011), Search for quark contact interactions in dijet angular distributions in pp collisions at root s=7 TeV measured with the ATLAS detector, PHYSICS LETTERS B   Volume: 694   Issue: 4-5   Pages: 327-345 

The ATLAS Collaboration, Aad, G et. al. (2010), Performance of the ATLAS detector using first collision data, JOURNAL OF HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS   Issue: 9   Article Number: 056

R Achenbach, et. al. (2008), The ATLAS Level-1 Calorimeter Trigger, JOURNAL OF INSTRUMENTATION, Volume 3

View all publications in research portal