Dr James Howarth

Published: 11 November 2019

Top Quark Properties and Hadron Collider Physics

Dr James Howarth

Dr James Howarth

School of  Physics & Astronomy

Type of fellowship           Royal Society University Research Fellowship

Area of research              Top Quark Properties and Hadron Collider Physics

Why did you choose to pursue a fellowship in your research career?

I wanted a permanent job! I completed my PhD at the University of Manchester then had post-doctoral stints at DESY in Hamburg and also at Manchester. After this time working on other projects, I wanted to be purely independent and not to be working on research projects set by others. As a kid I always wanted to be the character who solved problems – like the blue Power Ranger or Carter from Stargate – and when working as a postdoc I was always conscious of moulding my CV to be competitive for when it came time to apply for fellowships.

Why work at the University of Glasgow?

There are people here that I wanted to work with, so this was the perfect opportunity! I felt that I had grown as much as I could at Manchester and I wanted to explore some new ideas. Glasgow was a perfect choice because, though they do related and complementary research, no one investigates the top quark in the direction that I will. Coming here benefits both me and the existing group, win win! Glasgow also has the Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Leadership Fellowship which provides £100k to support your research – this has allowed me to support a PhD student and a postdoc at an early stage in my fellowship and to form the basis for my own research group.

How would you describe your research in 20 words or less?

Does the top quark spin more than it should because of hidden new physics?

What is your research highlight?

Probably the paper that supported this fellowship – it hints that the Standard Model may not behave as we thought it did. It’s still under review after three years, but the Royal Society noticed! It may prove that Top Quarks spin more than they should, which would have dramatic consequences for physics as we understand it.

What do you look for in a collaboration?

People who are better than me! Ideally, I want to learn as much as possible. It’s also important to be excited to work with your collaborators.

How do you see your research impacting society?

To be honest, it’s actually surprising how engaged the general public are with particle physics in general – there was a lot of news coverage when the Higgs Boson was discovered a few years ago. My research won’t lead to flying cars, but it will lead to a much deeper understanding of the way the universe works. The public is eager to understand our world on a fundamental level, and I hope that my work will help to service that ambition.

What's next?

Build my research group and expand its numbers, and work through my fellowship towards a permanent role at Glasgow. I also want to show how important fundamental Physics and Astronomy is to Glasgow University itself (and the economy in general) and why it is vital for the University to invest in it now and in the future.


First published: 11 November 2019