Leading particle physicist and pioneering chemist named as new honorary doctors of science

Portrait of a man and a woman. Photo.
Clifford Woodward and Melissa Franklin.

A particle physicist involved in popular education and who made a number of global discoveries in her research portfolio and a professor of theoretical physical chemistry who has developed theoretical models in the area straddling chemistry and physics. Melissa Franklin and Clifford Woodward have been appointed honorary doctors at the Faculty of Science at Lund University.

Melissa Franklin, a particle physicist at Harvard University, has made significant contributions to research on phenomena close to the limits of our current knowledge of fundamental physics. Through experiments at Fermilab in the USA and CERN in Switzerland, among others, she has made a number of important discoveries about the smallest building blocks of matter. Among Franklin’s greatest achievements is her contribution to the discovery of the top quark. She has also made pioneering efforts around the Higgs boson and the force carriers of what is known as the “weak force”, which is responsible for radioactivity, for example. Her research has strongly contributed to confirming the Standard Model, which represents our current limits of knowledge in the area of particle physics.

Melissa Franklin has also worked closely with Lund University. In 2019, she was a visiting professor at the Department of Physics, where she made a strong impression on students and researchers with her ideas about education and pedagogy. Among other things, Franklin launched an informal study circle open to everyone at the department. This gave students and researchers an opportunity to approach abstract issues that were not mentioned in the course literature through discussions.

“Melissa Franklin is a leading particle physicist who has contributed to the discoveries of the top quark and the Higgs boson. As a visiting professor in Lund, she has introduced new methods of communication and discussion to the benefit of both education and research”, notes Sven Lidin, professor and dean of the Faculty of Science.

The second honorary doctor is Clifford Woodward from the University of New South Wales, Canberra. The Australian has found global renown through his research in the area straddling physics and chemistry. He is best known for having developed theoretical methods to describe complex phenomena in polymer solutions that are used in paints, adhesives and food products, among other things. Computer simulations of such solutions usually require a very large number of calculations and take months to investigate, but thanks to Woodward's theoretical description of a polymer solution model, they can be completed in seconds on a standard laptop. Woodward has also formulated insightful theories regarding protein solutions and ionic liquids. He has carried out most of these projects in close collaboration with researchers at the Department of Chemistry at Lund University.

“With his strong personal and scientific commitment to theoretical and physical chemistry in Lund, Cliff Woodward has helped build one of our strong research environments. It is a commitment that stretches back decades and entails ten joint doctoral students and more than 100 joint publications,” adds Lidin.

Text: Johan Joelsson.