Menu Close


Log in to personalise your experience and connect with IOP.

Professor David Saxon OBE (1945-2022)

An eminent and widely travelled physicist and former Chair of IOP Scotland.

David Saxon was Emeritus Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow.

He was Kelvin Professor of Natural Philosophy from 1990-2008 and Head of Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1996-2001. He was Dean of the Faculty of Physical Sciences from 2002-2008.

Born in Stockport in 1945, Saxon was educated at Manchester Grammar School in classics and science and was a Brackenbury Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford from 1963-68, winning the University Prize for Physics Finals in 1966.

He graduated with first-class BA hons in 1966 and DSc in 1989. As Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford he was awarded MA and DPhil in 1970. 

He worked as a University of Oxford Research Officer from 1969-70 later moving to Columbia University in New York and Fermilab near Chicago, where he pioneered the identification of outgoing electrons and muons in high-intensity proton reactions, now a standard technique.

He led a research team for 16 years at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and later worked as part of the TASSO collaboration at the DESY electron-positron collider in Hamburg.

Professor Saxon served as a Council member for two research councils, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), chairing the PPARC Public Understanding of Science panel, and has been on panels and committees for five others (the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Medical Research Council (MRC)), as well as on a Research Assessment Exercise physics panel among many others.

He was also an external examiner for physics finals in Oxford and an external member of a panel reviewing the British Council’s science policy as well as serving on its award panels.

In Scotland he was Research Awards Convener of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and chaired the Institute of Physics in Scotland, as well as the Governing Committee of the Scottish Universities Summer Schools in Physics.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1993 and was awarded an OBE for services to science in 2005.

David passed away in early 2022.

Thanks to the University of Glasgow for the biographical information.