Brian Robert Fulton

Brian Robert Fulton, Ch. Phys., F. Inst. Phys.


Former affiliations

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Nuclear astrophysics

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Personal profile

Employment History

1977-1999  Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Rochester, USA

1999-1984  Staff Scientist, Daresbury Laboratory, Warrington

1984-2000  Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader, University of Birmingham

2000-2006  Professor of Physics, University of York

2006-2011  Head of Physics Department, University of York

2011- 2014  Academic Coordinator for Sciences, University of York

2015 - present Dean of Faculty of Sciences, University of York


Since obtaining a PhD in 1977 I have been active in academic research and teaching, holding posts in the USA, a government research centre and universities.

My research area is nuclear physics and I specialise in studying the nuclear reactions which power explosive astrophysical objects like Nova, X-ray Bursters and Supernovae.

Following a PhD at the University of Birmingham I spent some years at the Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory at the University of Rochester in the USA, before returning to the UK to take up a staff scientist position in the Nuclear Structure Facility at the SERC Daresbury Laboratory.

In 1994 I was awarded a New Blood lectureship and moved to the University of Birmingham where I was subsequently promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Reader.

I was appointed to a chair at York in 2000 to build up the nuclear physics group. I later served as Chair of Graduate Studies and then a five year spell as Head of the Physics Department before taking on the Academic Coordinator role, and subsequently Dean of the Faculty of Sciences.

As Dean I am responsible for the operation of the ten departments in the Faculty of Sciences.  These cover the physical, biological and health sciences.  Through the faculty structures I support the activities in teaching, research, management, finance and human resources. A particular aim is to stimulate and encourage interdisciplinary activities

In addition I also serve on the University Executive Board, Planning Committee, the University Research and Teaching Committees and Senate, as well as a range of other committees that support activities in the university.

In 2017 I was awarded the Phillips Award of the Institute of Physics in recognition of service to the community and in 2018 was elected as Honorary Secretary of the Institute.  As one of the senior officers and Trustee I serve on the Council and also on the Board of IoP Publishing.

International, European and National Involvement

I have been active in the development of nuclear physics on the international level through membership on the IUPAP (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics) Working Group on Nuclear Physics, having previously served on the OECD Global Science Forum working group on nuclear physics - bodies that work to chart the next stage in the evolution of our subject at international level.  In more specific roles, I have served as an international reviewer for the Australian Research Council and the National Science Foundation, USA, and served on the Programme Advisory Committee which allocates beam time on the RIKEN radioactive beam facility in Tokyo, Japan. In recent years I have served on Visiting Committees to report on the support for nuclear physics communities in the USA (DoE), Germany (DFG and Helmholtz Association) and Belgium (FOM). I also serve on the International Advisory Committee for a number of international conferences and have had editorial roles as a co-editor for EPJA, and on the editorial boards of JPhysG and Nuclear Physics News.

I am also active in the European nuclear physics scene, having recently served as the chair of NuPECC, an Expert Committee of the European Science Foundation which oversees the development of nuclear physics in Europe.  I have also served on the working group for nuclear physics set up by ESFRI (European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures). I was the convener for the working group which prepared the Nuclear Astrophysics section for the current Long Range Plan for Nuclear Physics in Europe, and served as the chair of the review committee for EuroGENESIS, one of the ESF EUROCORES programmes.  I have recently served as a member of the Governing Board of ECT*, the European Centre for Nuclear Theory, as a member of the Steering Committee of the EURISOL Design Study and on the Governing Board of the Hadron Physics I3 (both EU funded FP6 projects).

On the national scene, I have served on the STFC Science Committee (PPAN), advising on funding for Astronomy, Particle Physics and Nuclear Physics, served as a member of the EPSRC College and the EPSRC Physics Strategic Advisory Team, sat on the DTI review group on Nuclear Skills, served on the Editorial Board of JPhysG and on the Council of the Institute of Physics.  I am currently a non-core member of the STFC Science Board.

Research interests

I have always been interested in the study of nuclear reactions, both the reaction mechanism itself and how reactions can be used as a probe to study particular aspects of the structure of the nucleus. My early interests were in transfer reactions and the description of these using coupled reaction channels models. This lead to an interest in "break-up", where one of the nuclei in the collision fragments into smaller clusters. Although my initial interest was to investigate how this process influenced the overall reaction, I sidetracked down a long, but particularly productive path using break-up to probe the cluster structure of nuclei. This was a fascinating period dealing with concepts such as "nuclear molecules" and "alpha chain states".

More recently I have turned my attention to the study of reactions of astrophysical interests. This is a wonderful area of study, where nuclear physics can contribute to the understanding of some of the most amazing sites in the universe (Novae, X-ray Bursters, Supernovae etc.). By making use of our understanding of reaction processes, and by exploiting our techniques developed to measure specific types of reactions, we can determine the rates of the key nuclear reactions which power these explosive sites. The experimental challenges are enormous - beams of radioactive nuclei are required and the low reaction rates demand extremely sensitive detection systems.  We work closely with astrophysics modellers and astronomers to build this nuclear physics understanding into models of these objects.

As an experimenter, my main interest has been in developing detection techniques to enhance reaction studies and this has led me to the construction of a number of large, multi-detector arrays. These have been built and operated in a number of overseas laboratories, indeed my latest large project is a new silicon detector array, SHARC, which is coupled to the TIGRESS gamma ray array at the TRIUMF Laboratory in Canada.  I am currently involved in the commissioning of the EMMA recoil separator at TRIUMF which will provide new capability for our nuclear astrophysics research activity.

I have been fortunate to have spent sabbatical periods at the Argonne National Laboratory (USA), the Australian National University (Australia) and the TRIUMF Laboratory (Canada) where I have learned much from the experimental groups at these institutions. I have also been fortunate in recent years to work with colleagues in many other laboratories in Europe (Jyvaskyla, Louvain-La-Neuve, GANIL, Strasbourg, ISOLDE) and overseas (Berkeley, MSU, Notre Dame, Australian National University). Along the way I have enjoyed forays into other areas of science (e.g. Accelerator Mass Spectrometry and the search for neutrinoless double beta decay as a means of determining the mass of the neutrino).

I have published over 200 papers in refereed journals and over 200 conference contributions. I have presented around 50 invited plenary conference talks and supervised 20 PhD students.


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