Science leaders back UK’s Professor Mark Thomson as the right person to lead CERN

02/05/2024

SOME of the leading minds from across the world of science, including former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government Sheila Rowan and pioneering space physicist Professor Michele Dougherty, have given their backing to Professor Mark Thomson’s bid to be the next Director-General of CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics.

Professor Thomson is a renowned Cambridge University particle physicist, and today (Tuesday 2 May) he takes his campaign to Geneva, to set out how he has the scientific credentials, experience and vision to lead the world’s foremost international centre for particle physics, directly to the world-leading experts based in and around CERN itself.

Whilst in the city he will visit CERN itself, meet scientists currently working on some of their most advanced research, and host a reception at the UK’s Permanent Mission in Geneva for scientific and diplomatic leaders and decision-makers.

Professor Mark Thomson said:

“I am running for Director-General because I have the scientific credentials, the experience and the vision to deliver an even brighter future for every one of CERN’s member states, for its world-class staff, and for the fundamental breakthroughs this organisation continues to unlock in our understanding of the Universe.

“As a former CERN researcher myself, and a current CERN Council member, I’m excited to come back to Geneva and speak directly to the brilliant people, who make CERN’s breakthroughs possible, about my vision for the years ahead.”

Minister at the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Viscount Camrose said:

“Professor Mark Thomson has shown throughout his career that he has what it takes to bring diverse teams of the world’s best and brightest together, to tackle some of the most complex and challenging questions modern science can present.

“His remarkable track record of dedicated service to the global scientific community sets him out as the very best candidate, to lead CERN to an exciting future. It is my pleasure to support his candidacy, in Geneva today.”

The research taking place at CERN is at the cutting edge of physics, giving us incredible insights into the very nature of the universe through work on the Large Hadron Collider, and other experiments of unrivalled depth and scale. Breakthroughs that are made there, like the creation of the World Wide Web, are critical to scientific progress across the board, and have the potential to improve everyone’s lives.

A new Director-General for CERN will be selected later this year, following a vote amongst the organisation’s member states. Professor Thomson announced his candidacy in April, setting out a threefold vision to deliver an even brighter future for CERN, as the organisation faces decisions in the coming years that will shape its future profoundly – including the delivery of a major upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider.

If elected, Professor Thomson would develop an ambitious Strategic Plan for how CERN develops and makes major investment decisions over the next 5 years, would strengthen links with all of CERN’s member states, and would build an inclusive and supportive culture for CERN staff.

He has the exceptional scientific credentials and the experience required, to make a success of the role. Professor Thomson currently leads a scientific organisation of similar size and budget to CERN, the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, and is one of the most accomplished particle physicists of his generation, including more than two decades of experience in working on CERN projects. More details on Professor Thomson’s candidacy can be found here.

Support for Professor Mark Thomson as the next Director-General of CERN:

Michele Dougherty CBE FRS, Head of the Department of Physics and Professor of Space Physics at Imperial College London, said:

“I am so pleased that Mark Thomson is being supported by the UK government for the role of Director General of CERN.

“Mark is very well respected internationally, is highly qualified for the role and is the leader necessary for such a critical role.”

Professor Sheila Rowan CBE FRS, Chair of Natural Philosophy (Physics and Astronomy) at the University of Glasgow, said:

“I have had the pleasure of working with Mark closely for the last 6 years, and have had direct experience of his exceptional leadership skills, and his dedication to the future of particle physics.

“I can say whole heartedly, that I believe Mark would be an outstanding choice to lead CERN as its next Director General.”

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