2017 Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize

Professor David Charlton of the University of Birmingham, for his leadership in experimental work on the electroweak standard model, beginning with the study of Z-boson decays at LEP and culminating in the discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC.

Professor David Charlton is one of the leading contemporary experimental particle physicists in the UK, and is highly regarded internationally. His distinguished achievements in particle physics have underpinned the experimental confirmation of the standard model over the past three decades.

From early searches for the top quark, through wide-ranging measurements of weak gauge boson properties and most recently in the discovery and characterisation of the Higgs boson, Charlton has been a central figure in the building, data collection, analysis and leadership of energy frontier particle physics experiments at CERN.

Charlton’s early work on the UA1 experiment was on the search for the top quark. He then moved to the OPAL experiment at the LEP electron–positron collider, where he played a pivotal role in verifying the electroweak standard model through precision studies of Z-boson decays and the demonstration of gauge boson self-interactions in W+W- pair production. His leadership positions in the OPAL collaboration included being trigger coordinator and physics coordinator.

Since 2000, Charlton has been a member of the 3000-strong ATLAS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider. During the construction phase, he took responsibility for the assembly and testing of hybrids for parts of the semiconductor tracking detectors before becoming project leader for the first level calorimeter trigger.

Over the decade since 2007, he has been elected to an uninterrupted series of senior management roles, beginning as deputy physics coordinator and continuing as physics coordinator, deputy spokesperson and spokesperson. While deputy spokesperson, he was part of the ATLAS management team responsible for the co-discovery of the Higgs boson. His two terms as spokesperson (head of the collaboration) cover the period 2013–17.

Among many other achievements during this period, the Higgs boson has become firmly established as the first, and so far only, known fundamental scalar particle and its properties begin to be investigated in detail, the ATLAS experiment has undergone a significant upgrade and emerged well prepared for operation at the much increased centre of mass energy of 13 TeV and the physics motivation and technical design for the upgrade of ATLAS for the high luminosity phase of the LHC have been completed.

Charlton is universally acclaimed for the effectiveness he has demonstrated in these leadership positions. His achievements rest, in particular, upon his excellent characteristics as a hands-on experimentalist and upon his personal qualities as a calm, focused and effective scientific leader.

Charlton is a Fellow of the IOP and of the Royal Society.