Professor Emeritus Philip Burke CBE FRS MRIA

Last updated June 7, 2019 by Andrew Brown

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of CTAMOP member Prof. Phil Burke.

Prof. Burke was instrumental in establishing CTAMOP as a leading group in AMO physics, particularly in the area of computational R-matrix theory on which he was the world’s chief authority. Despite spending most of his time at his home in England following his retirement in 1998, he was still active in the department until quite recently, and his work continues to have an impact through the use of the R-matrix codes he helped to develop which are still in use in CTAMOP today. He will be remembered fondly by all who knew him and worked with him.

Prof.  Burke obtained his B.Sc in Physics from University College Exeter in 1953 and his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics at University College London in 1956 under the supervision of Sir Harrie Massey. He was appointed Assistant Lecturer in the University of London Computer Centre in 1957. In 1959 Prof. Burke took up an appointment at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory Berkeley where he carried out research in Luis Alvarez’s Bubble Chamber group and in Ken Watson’s theory group. He returned to the UK in 1962 to take up an appointment at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment Harwell.

In 1967 he was appointed Professor of Mathematical Physics in Sir David Bates’s department at Queen’s University Belfast where he established his group which uses R-matrix computational methods in the study of collision processes in atomic, molecular and optical physics of importance in many applications including the analysis of astronomical observations and the modeling of ionized gases and plasmas.

Prof. Burke was a Fellow or Member of several societies including the Royal Society, the Royal Irish Academy, the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society and the European Physical Society and has received a number of awards and honours including D.Sc Honoris Causa, University of Exeter in 1981 and Queen’s University Belfast in 1999, Fellow of University College London in 1986, CBE in 1993, the Guthrie Medal and Prize in 1994, and the David Bates Prize in 2000. Most recently, in 2012 he was honoured with the award of the Will Allis prize from the American Physical Society “for pioneering and sustained theoretical development of R-Matrix computational methods for electron-atom and electron-molecule collisions important in modelling ionized gases and plasmas”.


We are a Research Cluster of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Our research interests are focused primarily on computational and theoretical physics.

Old Physics Building

The Old Physics Building,
where CTAMOP is situated.