UK scientist to head next big European research project

Professor John Womersley
(Credit: STFC)

12 May 2016: STFC Chairman Professor Sir Michael Sterling today welcomed the announcement that Professor John Womersley has been appointed as the leader of Europe’s next major science project. The Board of the European Spallation Source (ESS), now under construction at Lund in Sweden, have appointed Professor Womersley as Director-General with effect from 1 November 2016.

Professor Sterling said the ESS neutron source will be the world’s best and biggest microscope for the structure of matter when ready for science from 2023. The UK is playing a key role in the design and construction of the project, and Professor Womersley’s appointment as the project’s leader is further recognition of Britain’s place as a leading science nation. Arrangements for his replacement as Chief Executive Officer of the Science and Technology Facilities Council will be announced in due course.

“The ESS is a world-class multi-disciplinary project, with input from 15 countries across the continent. I am honoured to have been chosen to lead the ESS during this crucial construction and scientific commissioning stage,” Professor Womersley said.

He said he would leave STFC after 11 exciting and rewarding years, including the past five years as Chief Executive, which included stunning scientific achievements from STFC’s research partnerships including the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, the first detection of gravitational waves in 2015, and breakthroughs in health care, clean energy, security, environment and more, and the successful development of STFC’s two Science and Innovation Campuses.

Professor Womersley said: “In addition to the science and innovation successes, I am particularly proud of the fact that STFC’s scientific excellence and societal impact has been recognised with new funding, and new facilities. I leave STFC in a very strong position for the future and wish my successor well as they continue to invest in world-class science and continue the important work of building closer links with the other research councils.”

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