Female first for Physics


Tara Shears

Professor Tara Shears

Dr Tara Shears has been awarded a Professorship, making her the first female Professor of Physics at the University.

After graduating from the University of Cambridge, Professor Shears began her career as a particle physicist at CERN, investigating the behaviour of fundamental particles and forces at the OPAL experiment.

Tara joined Liverpool in 2000, after being awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to continue her research at the high energy research frontier. She carried out her research at the CDF experiment, in the Fermilab particle physics facility near Chicago, USA.

In 2004, she joined the LHCb experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, investigating differences between matter and antimatter, and testing the Standard Model of particle physics.

Professor Shears initiated and developed the electroweak physics programme at the experiment, currently convenes the LHCb QCD, electroweak and exotics physics working group, and is a convenor of the LHC electroweak working group. Her research continues to test the behaviour of the electroweak forces at LHC energies.

Commenting on her promotion, Head of Particle Physics, Professor Themis Bowcock, said: “Tara’s achievements on the LHCb experiment have been truly outstanding. She pioneers and leads a whole area of physics on the experiment that no-else had thought was possible on LHCb when it was built. Her creativity and insight have helped Liverpool make important breakthroughs in physics.”

A world expert in her field, Professor Shears is committed to imparting knowledge and maintains an active outreach programme, making regular media appearances and giving talks to the public, to communicate the latest news in particle physics.

She is also one of the academics profiled as part of the University’s Icons Student recruitment campaign  that aims to inspire prospective students and encourage them to apply to Liverpool.

The number of female professors at Liverpool has increased by 47% since 2009, as part of the University’s commitment to recruiting and retaining high calibre female academics.

  • The University is a member of the Athena Swan Charter, which aims to develop and support women in Science, Engineering and Technology subject areas.

5 thoughts on “Female first for Physics

  1. Andy Mather

    Congratulations Tara – love following your tweets about goings on at LHC 🙂

    With regard the maths surely you need an increase of 100% to double not 50%! (you would need 68 or another 18)

  2. Sarah Mosedale

    Thanks for your reply Darren. That does seem like a notable improvement. Now all I need for the full picture is to know how many male professors we have at Liverpool. I am sure you will oblige!

  3. Sarah Mosedale

    Congratulations to Prof Shears! Always great to hear of a woman breaking through the glass ceiling… I was interested to hear that “the proportion of female professors at Liverpool has almost doubled since 2009” but I’m afraid this is precisely the sort of vague statistic that is unlikely to impress academics. It’s pretty meaningless as evidence of commitment to female academics etc. without the actual proportion being given. So – what is it?

    1. Darren Mooney

      Hi Sarah, in Sept 2010 there was 34 female professors and as of today there are 50, which is a 47% increase. Obviously in comparison to the number of male Professors there is a long way to go to achieve any level of parity however there is quite a bit of activity ongoing in relation to the Athena SWAN Charter to support the career development of women in SET. I am hopeful that this increase will continue to be a long term trend.

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