Herwig Franz Schopper

Director-General (January 1981 – January 1989)

A research associate at CERN whose mandate saw the construction of the Large Electron-Positron Collider, and two Nobel prizes for CERN physicists.

CERN Personalities,Director General
Herwig Franz Schopper at CERN in July 1983 (Image: CERN)

From 1966-67, Herwig Franz Schopper (born in 1924, German) was a research associate at CERN. He returned in 1970 as leader of the Nuclear Physics Division, and went on to become a member of the directorate responsible for the co-ordination of CERN's experimental programme. He was chairman of the ISR Committee at CERN from 1973 to 1976 and was elected as member of the Scientific Policy Committee in 1979. Following Léon Van Hove and John Adams' years as Director-General for research and executive Director-General, Schopper became the sole Director-General of CERN in 1981. 

Schopper's years as CERN's Director-General saw the construction and installation of the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP) and the first tests of four detectors for the LEP experiments. Several facilities (including ISR, BEBC and EHS) had to be closed to free up resources for LEP.

Schopper's mandate also saw the awarding of two Nobel prizes in physics to CERN physicists. In 1984, CERN physicists Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer shared the prize for their contributions to the project which lead to the discovery of the field particles W and Z, communicators of weak interaction. In 1988, Jack Steinberger, continuing his research work at CERN, was a joint recipient of the prize (together with Leon M. Lederman and Melvin Schwartz, USA) for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino.

Schopper served eight years as CERN's Director-General until he was succeeded by Carlo Rubbia in January 1989.