Professor Donald Perkins

Obituary: Professor Donald Perkins CBE FRS

Particle Physics

It is with great sadness that we learned Emeritus Professor Don Perkins CBE, FRS died on 30 October in Oxford. He was 97, having just celebrated his birthday earlier in the month; he lost his wife Dorothy in 2021.

Don was a major, well known, and admired figure in experimental particle physics throughout his life, both in the UK and worldwide. He began his career in ‘wartime’ Imperial College London (benefitting from scholarships he had won) and where, as a PhD student, he used photographic emulsion techniques to study cosmic rays. He then moved to Bristol University in 1948 where he continued with these studies, and then finally to Oxford where he was professor from 1965 until his retirement in 1998.

He was responsible for creating the particle physics research activity in the new university department established by Professor Sir Denys Wilkinson. He led the UK and the European research programme in neutrino physics, which was pursued at CERN. Don served as Chairman of the Nuclear Physics Board of the UK Science Research Council (SRC), which led to his CBE, and Chairman of the Scientific Policy Committee at CERN , to name only two of the many roles he undertook. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1966 and received the Royal Medal of the Society in 1991. Besides research, Don will be remembered by legions of students worldwide for his books, and in particular his Introduction to High Energy Particle Physics.

We would like to extend our condolences to his family and, in particular, to his two daughters. 

A force of particle physics

Donald Perkins obituary written by Emeritus Professor Frank Close OBE in The Guardian

Professor Donald Perkins obituary in The Times

Professor Don Perkins, scientist who made significant contributions to the physics of elementary particles – obituary in The Telegraph