Cartoon commissioned to celebrate the career of Professor Roger Davies
Credit: Mario Coelho

Celebrating Professor Roger Davies

Astronomy and astrophysics

Professor Pat Roche helped to mark the retirement of Professor Roger Davies.

On 30 June 2023, more than 100 people gathered in the Martin Wood lecture theatre to celebrate the contributions, achievements and career of Roger Davies, marking the conclusion of his term as the Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics.

Roger took up a tutorial fellowship at St Peter’s college in 1988, and established the Large Telescope Project group in the astrophysics sub-department of physics. This group developed the case for the UK to become a partner in an 8-m telescope and led to the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) funding the UK’s 25% partnership in the Gemini telescopes. In 1994, Roger moved to Durham as head of astronomy and stayed there for 8 years until he returned to Oxford to take up the Wetton chair and a professorial fellowship at Christchurch. Since then, Roger has made major contributions to teaching, research and administration within the Astrophysics sub-department, the Department of Physics at Oxford, the University and many international astronomy programmes. These include periods as Head of Astrophysics, Head of Physics, President of the Royal Astronomical Society and his current role as President of the European Astronomical Society.

Colleagues from around the world joined in to recall and celebrate Roger’s career, with reviews of his research and contributions to astronomy projects covering the period from his PhD at Cambridge, his postdoctoral fellowships at Lick Observatory and Cambridge, his stint at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Arizona and his time at Oxford and Durham. It was a joyful day with a universal appreciation of Roger’s extensive contributions and ability to get things done in sometimes challenging circumstances, while always maintaining good relations and fostering collaboration.

The day concluded with a celebratory dinner at St Hilda’s college, where the tranquil setting by the river Cherwell and the happy atmosphere among the participants provided a fitting conclusion to a day marking Roger’s remarkable achievements. We were delighted that Philip and Roswitha Wetton were able to join the meeting participants in the evening and enjoy the celebration of the first Wetton Professor of Astrophysics.