Visiting Professor of Nuclear Physics wins IOP Rutherford Medal

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Prof Peter Butler (left), Prof John Simpson (middle) and Prof Paul Nolan (right), attending the IOP Awards 2016 ceremony

Professor John Simpson, head of the Science and Technology Facilities (STFC) nuclear physics group at Daresbury and Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool has been awarded the prestigious Institute of Physics (IOP) Rutherford Medal and Prize.  The medal is awarded biannually to a nuclear physicist who has made an outstanding contribution to the field.  The Rutherford Medal and Prize has been previously awarded to Professor Peter Butler (2012) and Professor Paul Nolan (2014), from the University of Liverpool nuclear physics group.  Professors Butler and Nolan were in attendance at the 2016 award ceremony.  

Professor Simpson’s field of research is in probing the properties of nuclei at the limits of angular momentum, deformation and stability.  He has contributed to major discoveries in nuclear structure and has led the development of new detector technologies, which have shaped the experimental programme for gamma-ray spectroscopy across several decades.  Scientific highlights include the discovery of robust exotic triaxial superdeformed collective structures and the spectroscopy of extremely neutron-deficient nuclei.  To underpin such discoveries, Professor Simpson has led the development of large arrays of germanium detector including EXOGAM, in which he was project leader, and EUROBALL, in which he was chair of the Design and Infrastructure Group.  More recently, he has been a driving force in the development of the AGATA detector array for next-generation gamma-ray spectroscopy, using gamma-ray tracking.  He has been the AGATA project manager, chair of the AGATA management board and the international spokesperson of the AGATA collaboration, which involves 12 countries within Europe.  Professor Simpson is also exploiting the instrumentation and technical advances resulting from these collaborations in areas of societal importance, particularly in medical imaging, security systems, nuclear decommissioning monitoring and environmental assay.

Prof Simpson said “I am delighted and honoured to be recognised by the Institute Of Physics with this award and I feel very grateful to those I have worked with, at STFC, the University of Liverpool and across the UK, and through international collaborations, all of which are playing their part in revolutionising what we understand about nuclear structure today.” 

Professor Robert Page, head of the Nuclear Physics research group at the University of Liverpool said “John Simpson has been a key collaborator on many of the Liverpool group's research programmes in both pure and applied nuclear physics. This award is a thoroughly deserved recognition of John's seminal contributions to the field.”