Chris Llewellyn Smith

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Chris Llewellyn Smith

Emeritus Professor

Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith FRS


In brief
: Chris Llewellyn Smith is a theoretical physicist. He is currently interested in all aspects of energy supply and demand. Most recently: he was Director of Energy Research, Oxford University - see www.energy.ox.ac.uk – from 2011 to 2017, and President of the Council of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) from 2008 to 2017 – see www.sesame.org.jo. He has served as Chair of the Council of the world fusion energy project ITER, Director of the UK's fusion programme, Provost and President of University College London, Director General of CERN (1994-1998, when the Large Hadron Collider was approved and construction started), and the first Chairman of Oxford Physics (1987-92). Chris has written and spoken widely on science funding, international scientific collaboration and energy issues, and served on many advisory bodies nationally and internationally, including the UK Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology (1989-92). His scientific contributions and leadership have been recognised by awards and honours in seven countries on three continents, including election to the Royal Society in 1984, a knighthood 'for services to particle physics' in 2001, and most recently the award of the Royal Society’s Gold Medal in 2015.

In more detail (see also attached CV and list of publications):

After completing his Doctorate in theoretical particle physics in Oxford in 1967, where as an undergraduate (1961-64) he represented the university at cross country running, captaining the team in 1963, and at three miles on the track in 1962, Chris Llewellyn Smith worked briefly in the. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, before spending periods at CERN and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, after which he returned to Oxford in 1974. As a theoretical physicist, he worked mainly on the quark model and theories of the strong and electro-weak forces, and how they can be tested experimentally. He developed ways to demonstrate the "reality" of quarks and gluons (the particles that transmit the strong force that holds quarks together) using data from highly inelastic electron and neutrino scattering experiments. He showed that mathematically consistent theories of the weak interactions must necessarily be based on spontaneously broken gauge theories, and predict the existence of at least one Higgs boson. These and his other contributions to theoretical physics were recognised by his election to the Royal Society in 1984.

In 1984, Chris gave the theoretical summary talk in the CERN auditorium following the first workshop that systematically developed the case for building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In 1984-5, he acted as Expert Advisor to the High Energy Particle Physics Review (‘Kendrew Committee’), which was charged with recommending whether the UK should remain a member of CERN. In 1986-7, he was Expert Advisor to the European Review Committee (‘Abragam Committee’), which studied the organisation and management of CERN. He served on the CERN Scientific Policy Committee (1986-92), which he chaired in 1990-92.

Chris was appointed the first Chairman of Oxford Physics in 1987 (a post which he held until the end of 1992), with responsibility for dividing the budget and vacant posts between the then five independent Oxford Physics Departments, and recommending whether and how they should be merged or rearranged. Following a nem con vote of the Faculty, a single Physics Department was formed in 1990. He served as a member of ACOST, the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on Science and Technology (1989-92), which was an exhilarating experience as the then Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher) from time to time appeared and took the Chair.

As Director General designate of CERN, Chris put together the proposal to build the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and prepared a long-term plan for CERN in 1993, which he presented to the CERN Council at the end of the year. During his mandate as Director General (1994-1998), the LHC was approved, construction started, and major contributions from Canada, India, Japan, the Russian Federation and the USA were negotiated. In parallel, CERN's flagship Large Electron Positron collider (LEP) was successfully upgraded.

Chris was Provost and President of University College (UCL) London in 1999-2002, during which period UCL maintained its reputation as one of the UK’s leading universities.

He helped set up and was the first Chair of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (2002-04) – see http://www.acme-uk.org/home, which provides evidence-based advice to the Government on how to improve mathematics education in the UK.

As Director of UKAEA Culham (2003-2008), Chris was responsible for the UK's fusion programme and for operation of the Joint European Torus (JET). While at Culham, he developed and vigorously promoted the 'Fast Track' approach to the development of fusion power, which was officially adopted by the European Commission. He served as Chair of the Consultative Committee for Euratom on Fusion (2003-09), and of the Council of the world fusion project ITER (2007-09).

Chris was a member of the Council, and a Vice President of the Royal Society (2008-10).

In 2008, he was elected President of the Council of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) – see www.sesame.org.jo. SESAME is fostering science and technology in the Middle East and neighbouring countries (from biology and medical sciences through materials science, chemistry, and physics to archaeology). It is also fostering cooperation among the scientists from diverse countries across the region (the Members include Iran and Israel) who will visit SESAME periodically to carry out experiments. When Chris became involved, the SESAME building had been completed, but there was nothing in it and no funds available to build the storage ring or the beamlines. Having been deeply involved in finding the necessary funding and the whole of the construction period, leading up to the acceleration of a beam to the design energy in April 2017, he stepped aside in May 2017 following the opening of SESAME by His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan.

From the beginning of 2011 until October 2017, Chris was Director of Energy Research, Oxford University - see www.energy.ox.ac.uk. He set up a network of some 180 senior researchers, from across the University, who are addressing major technical, social, economic and policy issues related to energy. He saw his role as being to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations and increase the impact of Oxford’s work by strengthening connections with policy-makers and industry. He was especially interested in fostering work on systems issues that Oxford is particularly well positioned to address because of its wide range of expertise (in energy law, policy and economics, as well as personal behaviour, and almost all energy technologies). The Oxford Martin School Programme on Integrating Renewables is one good example of an activity which he started.

Chris Llewellyn Smith has written and spoken widely on science funding, international scientific collaboration and energy issues1.

1In – for example – the years 2011-17, he gave over 170 talks and lectures in Oxford, other parts of the UK and around the world (65% on energy, 17% on SESAME, 10% on physics, and 8% on international collaboration and science funding)