2009 Glazebrook medal

Professor Sir Peter Knight

Imperial College London

For his outstanding contributions to physics in the UK and globally through both his scholarship as a pre-eminent atomic and molecular optics theoretician and as a charismatic and effective leader of research and research organisations.

Peter Knight is a pre-eminent atomic and molecular optics theoretician and a charismatic and effective leader of research, and research organisations. He is currently Professor of Quantum Optics and Senior Principal at Imperial College. His Imperial College theoretical optics group has produced a cohort of eminent quantum opticians who, together with Peter, have played a major role in establishing the UK as a leading centre for quantum optics and quantum information science. Peter has also served the community via numerous editorial and advisory roles for journals (Progress in Optics, Journal of Modern Optics, New Journal of Physics, Contemporary Physics and Physics World).

He has also served the UK with distinction at a strategic level through his roles as Chief Scientific Advisor to the National Physical Laboratory (2002-05), Chairman of the Science Board of STFC (2006-08), Member of the Science and Technology Council, and Chair of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council at the UK Ministry of Defence.

Most recently, and with typical aplomb, Peter formulated and led two initiatives at Imperial College that resulted in the creation of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, funded by an initial private donation of £12.5m and of the Institute for Shock Physics, with an initial budget of £10m from AWE.

Peter’s influence extends beyond national boundaries. He was the first person from outside North America to be elected President (2004) of the Optical Society of America. He continues to act as Chair of the OSA Long Term Planning Group for Publications (2005-) and a Director of the OSA Foundation (2007-). Sir Peter was elected FRS in 1999 and has been a member of council of the Royal Society (2005-07).