Denys Wilkinson

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Sir Denys Haigh Wilkinson FRS (5 September 1922 – 22 April 2016) was a British nuclear physicist.

He was born on 5 September 1922 in Leeds, Yorkshire and educated at Loughborough Grammar School and Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating in 1943. [1]

After wartime work on the British and Canadian Atomic Energy projects, he returned to Cambridge in 1946, where he was awarded a PhD in 1947 and held posts culminating as Reader in Nuclear Physics from 1956–1957. [1] From 1944 to 1959, he was a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. [1]

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1956. [2]

In 1957 he went to the University of Oxford as Professor of Nuclear Physics. [1] In 1959 he became Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford, and from 1962 to 1976 was head of the Department of Nuclear Physics. [1] While he held his professorship at Oxford, he was a Fellow (there called a Student) of Christ Church, Oxford. [1] He was knighted in 1974. [3] In 2001 the Nuclear Physics Laboratory at the University of Oxford, which he had helped to create, was renamed the Denys Wilkinson Building in his honour.[4]

On leaving Oxford, he served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex from 1976 to 1987. [1] [5] After his retirement, he was appointed Emeritus Professor of Physics at Sussex in 1987. [1]

Denys Wilkinson's work in nuclear physics included investigation of the properties of nuclei with low numbers of nucleons. [2] He was amongst the first to experimentally test rules relating to isospin. [2] He also applied concepts from physics to the study of bird navigation. [2]

He is also notable for the invention of the Wilkinson Analog-to-Digital Converter, to support his experimental work. [2]

He died on 22 April 2016 at the age of 93. [5]

His papers are held at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge. [1] He was an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge from 1961, and an Honorary Student of Christ Church, Oxford from 1979. [1] He won the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 1965 and the Royal Medal in 1980. [2] [6] [7] In 1980 he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at Uppsala University, Sweden.[8]

See also[edit]

  • His portrait (1990), by Keith Clements, held at the University of Sussex.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Papers of Sir Denys Wilkinson". Janus. Cambridge University. Retrieved 2016-04-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Denys Wilkinson". The Royal Society. The Royal Society. Retrieved 2016-04-30. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 46430. p. 12745. 13 December 1974. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  4. ^ Oxford Physics – Denys Wilkinson Building
  5. ^ a b "University of Sussex's third Vice-Chancellor Sir Denys Wilkinson passes away on 22 April 2016". University of Sussex. University of Sussex. Retrieved 2016-04-30. 
  6. ^ "Award Winners [of Hughes Medal]". Royal Society. Retrieved 2016-04-30. 
  7. ^ "Award Winners [of Royal Medal]". Royal Society. Retrieved 2016-04-30. 
  8. ^