Uschi Steigenberger

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Uschi Steigenberger

Uschi Steigenberger fair use only.png
fair use only
Ursula Steigenberger

25 April 1951
Died12 December 2018
Alma materUniversity of Würzburg
Scientific career
FieldsCondensed matter physics
InstitutionsISIS neutron source
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Institut Laue–Langevin
Lebedev Physical Institute

Ursula "Uschi" Steigenberger (25 April 1951 — 12 December 2018) OBE FInstP was a German condensed matter physicist and Director of the ISIS neutron source. She was one of the founders of the Institute of Physics Juno Award.


Steigenberger was born in Augsburg. She studied physics at the University of Würzburg, where she remained for her graduate studies. She earned a PhD in condensed matter physics under the supervision of Michael von Ortenburg. For her doctoral thesis she designed a stress righ, which allowed her to apply uniaxial pressure to single crystals of tellurium.[1] After earning her PhD in 1981, Steigenberger worked in various magnet labs, including the CNRS Grenoble High Field Magnet Facility in Grenoble and Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow.[citation needed]

Career and research[edit]

Steigenberger joined the Institut Laue–Langevin in 1982.[2] She worked on the PRogetto dell'Istituto di Strutura della MAteria del CNR (PRISMA) spectrometer with collaborators in Italy, and continued to work with them on the motion of molecules.[3][4] She worked on cadmium telluride that had been alloyed with magnesium.[5] Here she met British physicist Keith McEwen, whom she married in 1986 before the couple moved to the United Kingdom.[6]

Steigenberger joined the ISIS neutron source in 1986.[7] She was initially responsible for the PRISMA spectrometer, leading a collaboration between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.[8] PRISMA was used for inelastic neutron scattering from single crystals.[8] It can measure the change in scattering during the application of temperature, pressure or magnetic fields.[8] Steigenberger was made one of the ISIS Excitations Group leaders, becoming the first woman Division Head in 1994. She attended the Oxford School on Neutron Scattering in 1991.[9] In 1996 Steigenberger coordinated a workshop on pulsed neutron experiments.[10] She served as director at the ISIS neutron source from 2011 to 2012.[7][11] She worked with scientists from Norway to create Larmor, a high-intensity small-angle scattering instrument that uses a beam of polarised neutrons to study the movement of atoms in a material.[12] Steigenberger served as Chair of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.[7] She retired from the ISIS neutron source in 2013.[13] Her work was recognised by scientists all over the world, developing important partnerships with Japan and Italy.[14]

Awards and honours[edit]

Steigenberger was shortlisted for a WISE Campaign Lifetime Achievement Award.[15] She was a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and part of their review of women in the physics workplace that led to the Juno award scheme as well as being a member of their Science Board.[16][17] In the 2016 New Year Honours she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to science, which she collected in 2017.[2][18] This OBE was honorary as Steigenberger kept her German citizenship whilst working in the UK.[18][16]


Steigenberger was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2017, and died on 12 December 2018.[17][19]


  1. ^ "Captcha". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  2. ^ a b "ISIS Uschi Steigenberger receives OBE". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  3. ^ "INFN - Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  4. ^ "Top female scientist honoured for a lifetime in physics". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  5. ^ Steigenberger, Ursula; Lebech, Bente; Galazka, Robert R. (1986). "Neutron scattering studies of a dilute magnetic semiconductor: Cd1-xMnxTe". Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials. 54-57: 1285–1286. doi:10.1016/0304-8853(86)90820-6. ISSN 0304-8853.
  6. ^ "ISIS A year around ISIS". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  7. ^ a b c "Uschi Steigenberger receives prestigious British medal for her service to the sciences". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  8. ^ a b c Steigenberger, U.; Hagen, M.; Caciuffo, R.; Petrillo, C.; Cilloco, F.; Sacchetti, F. (1991). "The development of the PRISMA spectrometer at ISIS". Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms. 53 (1): 87–96. doi:10.1016/0168-583X(91)95449-N. ISSN 0168-583X.
  9. ^ "History of the Oxford School on Neutron Scattering". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  10. ^ Steigenberger, Uschi; McEwen, Keith (1997). "Pulsed magnetic fields and pulsed neutron sources". Neutron News. 8 (1): 2–3. doi:10.1080/10448639708231951. ISSN 1044-8632.
  11. ^ "UK physics hit by new cuts". Physics World. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  12. ^ "UK-Netherlands collaboration will build state-of-the-art neutron super-microscope". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  13. ^ "ISIS OBE for Uschi Steigenberger". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  14. ^ "ISIS ISIS mourns the death of Dr Uschi Steigenberger OBE, former Director and friend". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  15. ^ "WISE Lifetime Achievement Award" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  16. ^ a b "IOP members are recognised in New Year Honours". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  17. ^ a b McNair, Rosslyn. "Remembering Uschi Steigenberger". The Institute of Physics blog. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  18. ^ a b Valzey, Ed (2017). "Ed Vaizey steps in to secure the award of an OBE". Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  19. ^ Anon (2018). "STFC mourns the death of leading physicist Dr Uschi Steigenberger OBE - Science and Technology Facilities Council". Swindon: United Kingdom Research and Innovation.