Particle Physics Experiment Group, The University of Edinburgh
Honorary Beltane Fellow: Oct 2009 – 31 Sept 2012
Alan Walker is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the Particle Physics Experiments group. Alan was a member of the NA48 experimental collaboration at CERN, which discovered evidence for direct CP violation in the neutral kaon system within the Standard Model. This is a subtle difference in the way matter and antimatter behaves and is one ingredient that could help to explain the current overwhelming dominance of the Universe by matter. He was also the lead consultant in a three-year study on the physical and medical effects of nuclear war commissioned by a consortium of councils in East Central Scotland. In recent years he has received or shared multiple awards for public outreach totalling in excess of £150,000.
His current project is PP4SS – Particle Physics for Scottish Schools – is aimed at taking particle physics out on the road to the general public as well as schools. Since 2005 he has also mentored 5 summer students, including four Nuffield Bursary students some of whom went on to win national or international prizes.
Although he will be retiring on September 30 2009, he has been appointed an Honorary Fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy from October 1 2009 for three years to continue with public engagement activities.
During this time his major effort will be in delivering engaging with the public on particle physics, particularly developments at CRN in Geneva. He will spend part of this time as an Honorary Fellow supporting Professor Emeritus Peter Higgs, who is now retired but still living in Edinburgh, to handle the intense media interest during this period.
He has already spent some time promoting the opportunities for public engagement to incoming postgraduate students who are part of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) and the Doctoral Training Centre jointly run by Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and St Andrews universities. He would wish to continue these activities.
As a Beltane Fellow he spends a large amount of his time mentoring summer Nuffield bursaries, and recruiting and training enthusiastic undergraduate and postgraduate demonstrators for the PP4SS project. He also spends time with academic colleagues as they make the transition in more involvement with such activities. He shares the knowledge gained over many years of these types of activities with those who are seeking to develop their skills and widen their own experience and he acts as mentor as well as a wider role in promoting public engagement.