2022 IOP Technician Award: Keith Clark

Further Education and Higher Education 

Keith Clark for outstanding provision of technical support for experimental particle physics at the University of Bristol and beyond.

Award Winner Keith Clark

Keith Clark has provided technical support to the Bristol Particle Physics Group at the University of Bristol since 2012. His skills are far beyond those expected of a technician of his pay grade. He has an immense sense of responsibility to each project and huge pride in his work, delivering far more than can be expected and willingly filling gaps outside his nominal responsibility. He works incredibly well in international, diverse teams and is praised by all who work with him. His most significant recent achievements are:

  • Installing the Ring Imaging Cherenkov detector (RICH) for the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment at CERN. It is only due to his heroic efforts that the group and wider UK project are close to fulfilling obligations to the LHCb upgrade. Clark has spent over 100 days at CERN during the last 12 months, sometimes requiring special permission from the Swiss authorities to enter the country despite COVID-19 travel bans. He repeatedly (and on his own initiative) extended CERN trips to help rescue projects that would otherwise have fallen behind sufficiently to endanger LHCb's next period of data-taking. In January 2022, Clark and co-workers completed the installation of the RICH photon detectors.
  • Designing components for the LHCb RICH detector and managing their manufacture in industry, including contacting suppliers, leading on-site visits and quality control.
  • Designing and building ultra-low mass silicon pixel detector prototypes for the PLUME collaboration, installed in the BEAST project at Belle-II in Japan.
  • Developing and supporting the operation of several muon tomography projects for industrial and security applications, singlehandedly designing and building the mechanical support structures, gas infrastructure and actual detectors for these systems (30 detectors, each two square metres in area, and two closed gas systems).

He plays critical roles supporting other Bristol high-energy physics projects and willingly helps with a multitude of technical tasks (including advising his fellow technicians) around the School of Physics.

Clark is the Bristol Particle Physics Group’s only technician, working directly with the principal investigators and researchers. Although nominally part of the School of Physics research technical team, in practice he works independently with minimal supervision from the team manager. He has singlehandedly saved several projects from disaster and is widely regarded as a hero.

After leaving school at 16, Clark had a mixed career in engineering and construction. His work with the Group started with a two-week contract after a chance meeting, and he has gone on to become an indispensable team member.