Professor Gavin Salam FRS from the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford has been awarded the 2023 Institute of Physics Paul Dirac Medal and Prize. The IOP gold Dirac Medal recognises Professor Salam’s profound, wide-ranging and impactful contributions to particle physics, especially those concerning the identification and structure of hadronic jets.
Professor Salam’s work combines deep theoretical understanding with exceptional skills in computational physics and a strong motivation to contribute to the optimal interpretation of experimental data. His early work on hadronic structure at small momentum fractions essentially solved the problem of extending the quantum chromodynamic treatment of structure evolution into this region. He improved and systematised the study of event shapes in hadronic final states and extended it to deep inelastic lepton scattering, which resulted in a wealth of new experimental studies. He discovered an important class of non-global enhanced effects overlooked in previous studies, which initiated a new area of theoretical research.
Professor Salam’s work on hadronic jets has led to important new insights and tools for experimental studies; he developed novel methods from computational geometry that allow jet definitions to be implemented very fast and efficiently which played a key role in the discovery of the Higgs boson. Professor Salam’s current research, improving the simulation of particle collisions, is of immense importance for the optimal exploitation of the Large Hadron Collider, both in searching for new phenomena and for achieving the best possible precision in measuring the fundamental parameters of particle physics.
‘The prize is a huge honour and should be seen as recognising not just my own contributions but those of my collaborators across many aspects of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) and collider physics,’ comments Professor Salam.
‘Enormous congratulations to Gavin,’ comments Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of the Department of Physics. ‘His work has helped to shape the field, without it we would not be able to interpret the LHC data we have painstakingly collected for signs of the unknown or achieve high precision in our measurements of the fundamental parameters of particle physics. It is wonderful to be able to work alongside him. He joins several others from Oxford to have won the Paul Dirac Medal and Prize which is testament to the calibre of theoretical physics at Oxford.’