Jim Al-Khalili is a British theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He is Professor of Theoretical Physics and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey. Further, he is a regular broadcaster and presenter of science programmes on BBC radio and television and is a frequent commentator about science in other British media.
Since 2014, Al-Khalili was named as a RISE (Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers) leader by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). He was President of the British Humanist Association between January 2013 and January 2016.
Early Life & Education
Al-Khalili was born in Baghdad in 1962. His father was an Iraqi Air Force engineer, and his English mother was a librarian. Al-Khalili settled permanently in the UK in 1979. After completing (and retaking) his A-levels over three years until 1982, he studied physics at the University of Surrey and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1986. He stayed on at Surrey to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree in nuclear reaction theory, which he obtained in 1989, rather than accepting a job offer from the National Physical Laboratory.
Career & Research
In 1989, Al-Khalili was awarded a Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) postdoctoral fellowship at University College London, after which he returned to Surrey in 1991, first as a research assistant, then as a lecturer. Since 1994, Al-Khalili was awarded an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Advanced Research Fellowship for five years, during which time he established himself as a leading expert on mathematical models of exotic atomic nuclei. He has published widely in his field.
Al-Khalili is a professor of physics at the University of Surrey, where he also holds a chair in the Public Engagement in Science. He has been a trustee (2006-2012) and vice president (2008-2011) of the British Science Association. He also held an EPSRC Senior Media Fellowship.
As a broadcaster, Al-Khalili is frequently on television and radio and also writes articles for the British press. Since 2004, he co-presented the Channel 4 documentary The Riddle of Einstein’s Brain, produced by Icon Films. Moreover, his big break as a presenter came in 2007 with Atom, a three-part series on BBC Four about the history of our understanding of the atom and atomic physics. This was followed by a special archive edition of Horizon, “The Big Bang”.
Al-Khalili lives in Southsea in Portsmouth with his wife Julie. They have a son and a daughter. Al-Khalili describes himself as an atheist and a humanist, remarking, “as the son of a Protestant Christian mother and a Shia Muslim father, I have nevertheless ended up without a religious bone in my body”.
- Full Name: Jameel Sadik “Jim” Al-Khalili
- Date of Birth: September 20, 1962
- Age: 57 years
- Birth Place: Baghdad, Iraq
- Spouse: Julie Frampton (since 1986)
- TV shows: Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity, MORE
- Movies: The Science of Doctor Who, Everything and Nothing
- Education: Priory School, Portsmouth, University Of Surrey
- Residence: Southsea, Hampshire, United Kingdom
- Citizenship: British
- Education: Priory School, Portsmouth
- Alma mater: University of Surrey (BSc, PhD)
- Known for The Life Scientific
- Spouse(s): Julie Frampton
- Awards: Michael Faraday Prize (since 2007), Kelvin Prize (2011), Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication (since 2016)
- Fields: Nuclear physics, Quantum mechanics, Quantum biology
- Institutions: University of Surrey, University College London, Humanists UK, BBC
- Thesis: Intermediate Energy Deuteron Elastic Scattering from Nuclei in a Three-Body Model (since 1989)
- Net Worth: approximately $920493420 (2019)
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