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Meet Peter Siddons

Photo of Peter Siddons

Peter Siddons

It was 1968, and halfway through a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, Pete Siddons “did what everyone else was doing in the late 60s and early 70s.”

He dropped out.

The aspiring scientist and guitarist left the university to pursue the latter career. But after returning to the school as a technician soon after, Siddons’ boss set him back on the educational path by allowing him to work toward his master’s degree. Siddons, who calls his return to the science field “serendipitous,” went on to receive his Ph.D. in physics from Kings College in 1979. 

After a brief stint at Precision Electronic Components in Canada, Siddons joined Brookhaven’s NSLS in 1985. He’s remained there ever since. Siddons first made his mark at the NSLS by developing novel beamline optics, the systems of lenses and mirrors needed to focus and aim synchrotron light at the sample being studied. In 2000, his focus switched to detectors.

“I’ve always had an interest in detector development,” said Siddons, who currently leads the NSLS Experimental Systems Detectors Section. “Many of the current photon and detector systems date back to the ‘70s, and upgrading them is the best way to provide better utilization in synchrotron facilities. The NSLS plays a leading role in promoting this kind of development.”

Siddons is married with three children. His wife, Liz, works across the street from Brookhaven at the American Physical Society. Their eldest daughter, Rebecca, is a teacher in Providence, RI; their middle child, Louise, is an assistant professor in art history at Michigan State University; and their youngest child, Giles, is a chef at a vegan restaurant in Manhattan.

Although he chose physics over the life of a musician, Siddons hasn’t abandoned his guitar. A member of several BNL-based bands throughout the years, you can still catch him performing at the annual NSLS holiday party.