Astroparticle Physics Medal for DESY scientist Christian Spiering

Christian Spiering

Christian Spiering from DESY has been awarded the prestigious O’Ceallaigh Medal for astroparticle physics by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Spiering was honoured “for his outstanding contributions to cosmic ray physics and to the newly emerging field of neutrino astronomy in particular”. The O’Ceallaigh Medal is awarded every second year. Spiering is the first German awardee to join the list of internationally-renowned scientists.

Spiering has worked at the Institute for High-Energy Physics of the Academy of Science of the GDR in Zeuthen, which in 1991 became part of DESY. In 1988, Spiering and his group joined the Baikal experiment, which in 1996 achieved the world’s first detection of high-energy neutrinos in a big volume of deep water by measuring Cherenkov light from charged particles emerging from neutrino reactions. This success proved the viability of this technique for neutrino astronomy.

In parallel, Spiering had a leading role in the construction of the AMANDA neutrino telescope in the ice shield of the South Pole and made the institute at Zeuthen a key player in this project. AMANDA paved the way to IceCube, the so far only neutrino detector of cubic-kilometre size. Spiering was spokesperson of the international IceCube collaboration from 2005 to 2007. Since 2012, IceCube recorded astrophysical neutrinos with energies of peta electron-volts (PeV; 1015 eV) which is seen as breakthrough in neutrino astronomy.

Spiering had a leading role, both nationally and internationally, in the self-organisation of this young, dynamically evolving field of science. As chair of the Peer Review Committee of the Astroparticle Physics European Coordination (ApPEC) he shaped the international research and funding structure of this field and led the effort towards the first European Roadmap for astroparticle physics. He served on countless panels for strategic orientation of international research programmes and institutes, such as the Particle And Nuclear Astrophysics and Gravitational International Committee (PANAGIC), the CERN Science Policy Committee and the INFN and NIKHEF scientific advisory and review boards.

Spiering was always committed to foster the cooperation with Russian research groups and brought together all current neutrino telescope projects under the umbrella of the Global Neutrino Network, the board of which he still chairs.

The O’Ceallaigh Medal was established by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and the estate of Cormac O’Ceallaigh, the former director for many years of its Cosmic Ray Department, to honour scientists who have made distinguished contributions to Cosmic Ray Physics.The medal will be presented on 13 July 2017, as part of the opening ceremony at the biennial International Cosmic Ray Conference, held in Busan, South Korea.