Swapan Chattopadhyay appointed to the UK’s first Chair of Accelerator Physics and to be the Inaugural Director of The Cockcroft Institute

The Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster have appointed Swapan Chattopadhyay to the Sir John Cockcroft Chair of Physics. The three universities have together created this new Chair, the first such joint chair in Accelerator Physics in the UK. Chattopadhyay’s appointment is to be held concurrently with the position of Inaugural Director of The Cockcroft Institute from March 19th 2007. He will also serve as a principal member of the steering committees for the flagship, “fourth generation”, light source, 4GLS, which is now in preparation at the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus. The Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology is a joint venture of the three universities with the UK Research Councils PPARC and CCLRC, and with the North West Development Agency (NWDA).  

Swapan Chattopadhyay is currently Associate Director at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, USA. He is internationally recognized for pioneering work in the physics and technology of particle beams and photon science. His achievements have included major contributions to phase space cooling, to innovative particle colliders, to novel synchrotron-radiation production, and to the generation of ultra-short, femtosecond, X-ray sources. His contributions also include the establishment of innovative education and training in Accelerator Physics and Engineering, and successful industrial collaboration. He has a strong interest in, and has contributed to, the history of physics, to physics education, and to international collaboration through science. He serves on various executive, advisory and editorial boards of the American, European and Asian Physical Societies and Research Councils, the US Department of Energy, the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), professional journals, and national and international review committees. He recently ended his term on the Advisory Board of the Governor of the State of Virginia for the Virginia Biotechnology Initiative, 2001-2005, and has just been elected to serve for a term of four years 2007-2010 as the Vice-Chair, Chair-Elect, Chair and Past-Chair of the American Physical Society’s Division of Physics of Beams. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the UK Institute of Physics. He has received many awards and distinctions from institutions, professional societies and governments worldwide in his roles as researcher, mentor, scholar and lecturer. Chattopadhyay quotes more than 100 refereed articles in professional journals, and he is frequently invited to speak at international conferences.

Born and educated in Darjeeling and Calcutta in India as a National Scholar and National Science Talent Scholar until completion of his BSc (Calcutta University) and MSc ( Indian Institute of Technology), Chattopadhyay received his PhD in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982 under the tutelage of Joseph Bisognano and Owen Chamberlain. He then continued at CERN as an “attaché scientifique” in the Super Proton Antiproton Synchrotron working with Daniel Boussard, Simon van der Meer and Carlo Rubbia, developing the early ideas for the stochastic cooling of bunched beams, which led to the discovery of the W and Z vector bosons at CERN, and which today are being applied successfully to phase space cooling of heavy ions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven. He returned to Berkeley Lab in 1984, where he led and defined the accelerator physics of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) and the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), where he pioneered the accelerator physics which underpinned the Berkeley-Stanford asymmetric B-factory (PEP-II) for CP-violation studies, and where he initiated the Berkeley FEL/Femtosecond X-ray Source and Laser-Plasma Acceleration development. He was a Senior Scientist, a Guest Professor, and the Founder/Director of the Center for Beam Physics at Berkeley, until his move to Jefferson Lab in 2001 after 25 years at the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

In his tenure since 2001 at Jefferson Lab as its Associate Director, Chattopadhyay has restructured the lab creating two centres of excellence which focus on the emerging technologies underpinning future accelerator development – the Center for Advanced Studies of Accelerators (CASA), and the Institute for Superconducting Radio-Frequency Science and Technology (ISRFST). He has recently initiated first steps in the creation of a third center in advanced cryogenics. Under his guidance and leadership, Jefferson Lab has developed electron beams of unprecedented precision as probes of hadronic matter, has risen to become the leading centre in the research, development and implementation of superconducting Radio Frequency cavities, which are now operating in the Oak Ridge Spallation Neutron Source and which are foreseen for the International Linear Collider, and has further developed the technology of “energy recovery” in linacs to the extent that they now can be contemplated in “fourth generation” systems such as 4GLS now under development at Daresbury.

Professor Chattopadhyay commented on his appointments: “I am honoured to be appointed to the Sir John Cockcroft Chair, and to be invited to take the Directorship of the Cockcroft Institute. The creation of the Institute by the three universities in partnership with PPARC, CCLRC, and the NWDA, is most opportune as the world moves into gear for the challenges of particle accelerators in the 21st century. Accelerator Science continues to grow as a cornerstone for progress in physical and life science, and in advanced technology. It poses major new challenges in the future, which, when solved, will open fantastic new horizons and opportunities for science and its application, and thereby for the progress of humankind. I applaud the vision, commitment, courage and foresight of the founders in launching the Institute. I am impressed by the determination of all concerned with the proposal to build the revolutionary new light source 4GLS at Daresbury, and the scientific challenges and opportunities which it will bring. I look forward in the future to working with the staff in the Institute on global projects, with the 4GLS team, and with many colleagues worldwide from my new base at the Cockcroft Institute.”

Professor John Dainton FRS, Founding Director and Sir James Chadwick Professor of Physics at the University of Liverpool said: “Swapan Chattopadhyay brings to the Cockcroft Institute immense scientific distinction and experience in Accelerator Physics. He is a world leader in his field with a proven track record at the ‘cutting edge’. He has been a constant source of advice and inspiration as we have faced the challenge of launching the Institute as an international centre of excellence. I am delighted that he has accepted the invitation to come to the Institute. As he assumes the responsibilities of Director, I look forward to working with him on the exciting and growing developments possible in international science, taking full advantage of the major expansion underway at the three research-led universities and the Daresbury Laboratory. When coupled with the investment of the NWDA and the research councils, NW England, together with the rest of the UK, is further enhancing its reputation as one of, if not the, most exciting places for scientific research in the world.”

Professor Mike Poole, Director of CCLRC ASTeC, remarked: “Attracting such a world-leading accelerator expert to the Cockcroft Institute is a major coup for the UK. It illustrates the gathering strength of our national initiatives in Accelerator Science. Swapan Chattopadhyay will have a major impact on all of our accelerator R&D programmes, and I look forward to a close working relationship with him, with further reinforcement of the important links between CCLRC and the universities.”

Professor Elaine Seddon, 4GLS Project leader, commented: “As an innovative thinker with a deep understanding of fundamental science, of cutting-edge technical issues, and of the broad picture, Swapan Chattopadhyay is a superb appointment as Inaugural Director of The Cockcroft Institute. The 4GLS team is designing a world-leading accelerator that will tackle some of the pivotal scientific issues of our time. I’m looking forward to working very closely with Professor Chattopadhyay, and I’m sure that a very productive time lies ahead as we face the challenges of realising 4GLS.”

Professor Ken Peach, Director of the John Adams Institute at the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London, which, together with the Cockcroft Institute, provides the main focus for the new expansion of R&D in Accelerator Science and Technology underway in the UK, said “This is very exciting and welcome news, and strengthens enormously the UK's renewed Accelerator Science programme. I look forward to working with Swapan, who has twice given seminars to the John Adams Institute, to pursue the development and use of accelerators for the benefit of science and society.”

Welcoming the news of the appointment, Professor Robert Aymar, Director General of CERN, said: “I am excited and very pleased by the appointment of Chattopadhyay as Inaugural Director of The Cockcroft Institute, and I look forward to important and significant collaboration in the years to come to the benefit of science in Europe and the rest of the world”.

The Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster, together can lay historical claim to twenty eight Nobel Prize winners amongst their staff and students. A major contributor to this distinction is in research with particle accelerators. Following the discovery of the atomic nucleus in Manchester by Lord Rutherford, physicists from NW England (notably the Nobel Laureates John Cockcroft and James Chadwick) together with NW industry, were central to the “splitting of the atom” and to the discovery of the neutron in Cambridge. Subsequently, after one of the first synchronous RF particle accelerators in the world was built and operated in Liverpool by Chadwick and co-workers, physicists from Manchester and Liverpool were instrumental in the creation of the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, CERN, of the Rutherford Laboratory, and then, with Lancaster University, of the Daresbury Laboratory. All three universities, together with colleagues at Daresbury Lab, now have groups working at the forefront of particle, nuclear, atomic, and molecular physics at accelerator laboratories worldwide. The creation by these universities of the Cockcroft Institute, its growing role as an international centre of excellence in Accelerator Science and Technology situated on the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus, and the appointment of someone with the distinction and experience of Swapan Chattopadhyay to the new Sir John Cockcroft Chair, are thus a further milestone in the development and enhancement of the on-going excellence of science and engineering in NW England, its global impact, and its importance for regional and national economic development in the UK.

The Cockcroft Institute was recently opened in its new building on the Daresbury Campus by the UK Minister of Science, Lord Sainsbury (, Its importance in the development of UK science in a global context was recently highlighted by the UK Prime Minister (