2008 Glazebrook medal

Professor William George Stirling

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France, and University of Liverpool

For his outstanding leadership in managing and taking forward a world-leading laboratory, and for his innovative work in neutron and X-ray scattering science.

The Glazebrook medal of the Institute of Physics for leadership in a physics context, for example, in a large national or large facility environment has been awarded to Professor William George Stirling, Director General of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, for his outstanding leadership in managing and taking forward a world-leading laboratory, and for his innovative work in neutron and X-ray scattering science.

Professor Stirling was appointed Director General of the ESRF in 2001 for five years, on leave from the Department of Physics, University of Liverpool.  Under his strong but conciliatory leadership combined with a happy enthusiasm, the ESRF has developed as superbly-run institute, able to exploit fully its dominance as the best synchrotron facility in the world. His achievements, including the expansion of the user community and number of papers published, have been recognised by the extension of his appointment for a further three years.

Stirling’s success has been built on many years of outstanding research and leadership in the fields of neutron and X-ray science. His own studies have been centred on the properties of liquid helium-4 and helium-3, and the exotic magnetism of bulk materials, thin films and multilayers, with a special interest in lanthanides and actinides.

He has played a seminal role in developing neutron and X-ray techniques and instrumentation, constructing the highly successful IN12 and IN14 neutron triple axis spectrometer at the Institut Laue-Langevin, and leading the development and construction of the UK XMaS beamline at the ESRF to exploit the then new technique of resonant X-ray scattering for magnetism research.

Stirling will remain the driving force behind proposals for a major upgrade programme to refurbish the ESRF accelerator and extend the beamlines, thus ensuring the provision of the advanced experimental facilities required for future science over the next decades.