Professor Nigel Watson BSc, PhD

Professor Nigel Watson

School of Physics and Astronomy
Professor of Particle Physics

Contact details

Room 215, Physics West Building
School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Watson works on physics analysis and core simulation in the LHCb Experiment at CERN.  He also has interests in detector development for future Particle Physics experiments. He was based at CERN from 1990-1998, and has worked for CERN, CRPP/Carleton Univ. (Ottawa, Canada), Rutherford Appleton Lab. and Birmingham University, where he became a member of academic staff in 2005. 


  • Ph.D. in Particle Physics, University of Birmingham
  • BSc Hons, Physics, University of Birmingham


Nigel Watson obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham in 1991, on event reconstruction and measurements of electroweak effects in e+e- the OPAL detector at LEP.  Continuing on this experiment, his physics activities included WW physics, soft QCD and event generators, and his technical contributions included online monitoring and alignment/calibration of the Z tracking chambers; online/offline database system for the experiment;  reconstruction software for the endcap muon chambers; and  software distribution framework.

In 2001, he began development of high precision calorimetry for a future e+e- collider (CALICE Collaboration, ~300 physicists), was joint analysis coordinator (2007-2012) and has carried out simulation studies, data analysis and testbeams for a CMOS MAPS based digital ECAL (DECAL).  In 2013, he joined the CLIC Detector and Physics Study Group.  He continues the DECAL development in the context of the EPICAL-2 R&D project (links to ALICE FoCAL).

He coordinated R&D for the ILC Beam Delivery System collimators, was PI for the SLAC T480 R&D project (RF wakefields), and for ILC collimator damage tests at KEK.

Following on from his career interests in precise measurements, carried out at LEP and prepared for by ILC-R&D, in 2011 Nigel brought a team at Birmingham into the LHCb experiment at CERN, to extract new physics with rare decays at LHC, as well as working on the core simulation framework. More recently, he has joined the CODEX-b project, searching for long-lived particles using the LHCb interaction point.


  • First year tutor
  • Introduction to Particle Physics and Cosmology (Year 1)
  • Physics and Communication Skills (Year 1)
  • Current Topics in Particle Physics (Year 4)
  • Particle Physics MSci projects
  • Careers Tutor for School of Physics and Astronomy

Postgraduate supervision

  • LHCb physics
  • LHCb Geant4 simulation and tools
  • MAPS-based digital electromagnetic calorimetry
  • Calorimetry and physics studies for future e+e- colliders


  • LHCb Physics
  • Rare decays
  • Detector simulation / Geant4
  • Detector R&D - LHCb upgrades (LGADs, CMOS)
  • Physics and detector design for a future e+e- linear collider
  • CODEX-b

Other activities

  • LHCb UK Spokesperson (2020-)
  • LHCb Experiment at CERN
  • LHCb Collaboration Board
  • IPPP Core Programme Review (2021)
  • STFC Accelerator Institute Grant Review (2020)
  • Member STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship Panel (2018-2021)
  • (chair) Four-yearly review of RAL PPD, 2016
  • LHCb Editorial Board (2013-2015)
  • Member, STFC PPD Steering Committee (2012 - 2015)
  • Member, STFC review of Consolidated Grants implementation (2014)
  • Member, STFC MICE and UK NF Oversight Committee (2008 - 2018)
  • Member, STFC Particle Physics Grants Panel (2007 - 2012)
  • P.I., SLAC T480 R&D project (2005-project end)
  • Spoiler Wakefield and Mechanical Design coordinator, FP6 EUROTeV  Consortium (2005-2008)
  • Member, ILC Global Design Executive (2007 – 2010)
  • CALICE co-Analysis coordinator (2007-2012)
  • STEM Ambassador (2010 onwards), school visits, ...
  • CLIC Detector and Physics Study Group