Accessibility statement

Prof Dan Watts
Inspirational Research Leader



  • Ph.D University of Glasgow


  • EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow University of Edinburgh
  • Chair in Hadron and Nuclear Physics, University of Edinburgh
  • Inspirational Research Leader Appointment at York



Dan's research uses the world's most intense electromagnetic beams to probe the structure of hadronic matter and to carry out precision measurements on atomic nuclei. Equipment for these experiments is built in house with subsequent experiments carried out at the Thomas Jefferson Laboratory (JLAB) in the USA ( and the Mainz microtron in Germany (

The research provides new information on the fundamental structure of matter, provides key data for nuclear physics and also progresses our understanding of dense hadronic systems in astrophysics such as neutron stars. The current programme includes measurement of the size and shape of "neutron skins" forming on the surface of heavy nuclei, which constrain the poorly understood properties of neutron star matter. Research into a new particle formed from six-quarks (a hexaquark), whose discovery was led by the team at York,  may have an important role in limiting neutron star properties such as their structure and mass limits. Ongoing experiments at JLAB (MesonEx) are searching for hybrid mesons, particles in which the glonic field between the two quarks is excited, resulting in a family of new particles whose properties provide the cleanest experimental signature to delve deeper into the nature of quark confinement and mass generation.  We also provide key nuclear data which is crucial for the next generation neutrino facilities and I am the UK representative on the "electrons4neutrinos" initiative.

The pure science research enables the development of new apparati, advanced computer simulations and new methodologies which have synergies with cutting edge developments in medical physics. In this we also lead initiatives to develop new imaging methods in Positron Emission Tomography (PET), unique apparati to monitor next generation "flash" radiotherapy and new gamma imaging methods for the emerging proton therapy techniques.

Research group(s)

Nuclear Physics Group


  • Nuclear physics consolidated grant (2017-2021)
  • Innovate UK grant with Kromek Ltd, PET medical imaging (2017-2019)
  • STFC PPRP Project grant. Development of a fast timing hodoscope for CLAS12 at JLAB (2016-2018)
  • STFC impact acceleration funding  - Flash radiotherapy (2018)
  • STFC impact acceleration funding  - New concepts for imaging in proton therapy  (2018)
  • IPPP fellowship - Nuclear physics for next generation neutrino facilities (2017-2018)


We work in large collaborations at the JLAB and MAMI facilities. Current collaborators include;

  • O Hen (MIT)
  • R de Vita and M Battaglieri (INFN Genoa)
  • D Ireland (University of Glasgow)

Prof Dan Watts


School of Physics, Engineering and Technology
University of York
YO10 5DD
Tel: +44 (0)1904 322228
Fax: +44 (0)1904 322214
Room: P/CE 03