Prof N K Watson

Position:Professor of Particle Physics
Projects:LHCb, future e+e-
Room:West 215
Profile:University staff profile


Nigel Watson works on the LHCb experiment at CERN. He also has interests in detector development for future Particle Physics experiments. He was based at CERN full-time from 1990-1998, and has worked for CERN, CRPP/Carleton Univ. (Ottawa, Canada), Rutherford Appleton Lab. and Birmingham University, where he became a member of academic staff in 2005.
Nigel obtained his Ph.D. (University of Birmingham, 1991) for event reconstruction and measurements of electroweak effects in e+e- using the OPAL detector at LEP.


Nigel's current undergraduate teaching:

  • Year-1 tutorials
  • Year-1 Introduction to Particle Physics (and Cosmology) lecture course
  • Year-4 projects
  • Misc. Canvas/teaching admin.
Until 2017/2018, Nigel's teaching also included: Year 3 Particle Physics, Year 3 extended projects ("Group Studies"); Head of Year-4 undergrad. programmes; overall responsible for Year 4 MSci projects.

He supervises several PhD students on LHCb and on detector development.


Nigel works on physics analysis, in particular rare rare decay modes of b baryons [1, 2], charmless decays of B mesons [3], lepton universality tests [4], and core simulation in the LHCb experiment at CERN. He also has interests in the future upgrades for LHCb's electromagnetic calorimeter to improve its performance, building on his previous R&D for ILC.

Before bringing the Birmingham group into LHCb in 2011, Nigel worked full-time between 2003 and 2011 on development work for a future e+e- collider. He was one of the original group from the UK working on the CALICE calorimeter R&D project (joint analysis coordinator, 2007-2011), carrying out simulations for test beam and high performance electromagnetic calorimeters, in particular the "digital" ECAL concept based on CMOS MAPS technology. He has been a member of the ILD detector collaboration from its beginning, and joined the CLIC Detector and Physics Study Group in 2012.

In parallel with his detector interests, Nigel also worked on accelerator development for the ILC between 2003 and 2010. He led the development of collimators for the Beam Delivery System of the ILC for a couple of years, and two projects to study RF wakefields (T480 at SLAC's End Station A) and material damage (at KEK's Accelerator Test Facility), as part of a new UK initiative (including EuroTeV, LC-ABD,...)

Nigel also worked on the BaBar experiment between 2000 and 2004, contributing to the offline quality control checking.

Nigel's first research project was the OPAL experiment at the LEP e+e- collider, recording data between 1989 and 2000, with analysis continuing for several years after this. Nigel's physics interests included: dimuon production at LEP-1 [6], measuring cross-sections, asymmetries and couplings of the Z boson [7,...]; "soft" QCD phenomena, in particular using sub-jet multiplicity [8] as a technique (preceding jet sub-substructure at the LHC by some years). In the LEP-2 era, from 1996 onwards, Nigel concentrated on W pair production studies, including W boson mass and final state interaction effects, in particular so-called "colour reconnection" [9, 10,...].

Nigel carried out many highly technical roles in OPAL and was one of the offline software experts for the experiment. These included: online monitoring and alignment/calibration of the Z tracking chambers; developing/maintaining the online/offline database system for the experiment; writing the reconstruction software for the endcap muon chambers; co-developing the software distribution framework; a developer of the offline event display.

Further contact information

Contact details at CERN


University staff profile
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