2015 Glazebrook Medal

Professor Sir Tejinder Virdee, Imperial College London, for his leadership of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) where evidence for the Higgs boson was revealed after 20 years of research involving design, construction and data-taking.

Professor Sir Tejinder Virdee

Tejinder (Jim) Virdee is one of the most influential and respected scientists in the UK, and an acknowledged international leader in particle physics. During a long and distinguished career, he has held a number of senior positions in key experiments, most recently the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC. Between 1993 and 2009 he was first, the deputy spokesperson and then the spokesperson, of CMS, an experiment involving 3000 physicists and engineers from all over the world. In these leadership roles he was one of a small handful of truly influential scientists in the worldwide community of particle physics.

Virdee has worked on experiments at SLAC (Stanford, US) and CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) including the CERN-UA1 experiment that discovered the W and Z bosons. His interest in hadron collider physics eventually led to his prominent role in the innovative design, and then the lengthy construction of the CMS experiment, and in particular the scintillating crystals electromagnetic calorimeter, a vital piece of the “toolkit” necessary to discover the Higgs boson. His leadership role in CMS began in earnest in the early 1990s and in the 20 years that followed he devoted his time to the design, the construction, the commissioning of, and the recording first collisions with the CMS detector, a truly monumental task. That CMS is now performing superbly and producing some of the most exciting new physics data, along with the other LHC detectors, on the fundamental structure of the universe, is testimony to the quality of scientific and technical leadership that he has provided. In 2012 the ATLAS and CMS collaborations made the seminal discovery of the Higgs boson. The experiments’ electromagnetic calorimeters were critical in isolating the major signal of this boson, via its two-photon decay.

Virdee is also a passionate and effective communicator of science in general and particle physics in particular, with regular appearances in the media. He is highly effective at explaining to the public and politicians alike why it is so crucially important for the long-term economic well-being of the UK to support “blues skies” research such as that carried out at the LHC.