James Stirling (physicist)

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James Stirling
Born (1953-02-04) February 4, 1953 (age 64)
Institutions Durham University
Cambridge University
University of Washington
Alma mater Peterhouse, Cambridge University
Thesis Deep inelastic processes in asymptotically free theories (1979)
Doctoral advisor John Polkinghorne[1]
Notable awards Smith's Prize (1978)

William James Stirling CBE, FRS, FInstP (born 4 February 1953) is the first Provost of Imperial College London. He was appointed to this role in August 2013.[2]


He was born in Belfast and grew up in Glengormley, Co. Antrim, attending first Glengormley Primary School and then Belfast Royal Academy. He was admitted as an undergraduate to Peterhouse, Cambridge University, in 1972, taking a First in Part IB and Part II of the Mathematical Tripos and a Distinction in Part III. He graduated BA in 1975, and continued at Peterhouse to take a PhD (1979) in Theoretical Particle Physics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. He won a Smith's Prize for Mathematics in 1978.[citation needed]

After periods of research in the USA, Cambridge and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Stirling was appointed to a lectureship at Durham University in 1986. In 2000 he became the first Director of the University's new Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP), which together with the Institute for Computational Cosmology, forms part of the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics.

From 2001 to 2003, he served as the first Chair of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council Science Committee, the research council's top-level scientific advisory committee. He was a member of the Physics Sub-Panel in two Research Assessment Exercises (2001 and 2008) and was Deputy Chair of the 2008 panel.

At Cambridge he was the Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Head of the Cavendish Laboratory, and Fellow of Peterhouse at the University of Cambridge.[3]

Stirling's research area is theoretical particle physics. In a research career spanning more than 30 years, he has published more than 300 research papers, including some of the most frequently cited papers in the physical sciences. His particular research interest is particle physics phenomenology – the interface between theory and experiment – and he works closely with experimentalists at research laboratories in Europe and the United States. He is a member of the internationally renowned MSTW collaboration that studies the ‘parton’ structure of the proton.

In recognition of his contribution to particle physics research, Stirling was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in May 1999. He was awarded a CBE in the 2006 New Year Honours list, for services to science. He was a member of the Council of the Royal Society in 2007-8, and currently (2009 - ) serves on the Council of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).


  1. ^ "DAMTP theses". DAMTP. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "James Stirling to be Imperial's first Provost". Imperial College London. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Fellows of Peterhouse College, 2008-09". Cambridge University Reporter. 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
New creation Provost of Imperial College London
Preceded by
Malcolm Longair
Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy
Succeeded by