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A family matter – twin brothers graduate with PhDs in particle physics

Leigh (L) and Mark (R) Whitehead at their graduation ceremonyA pair of identical twin brothers with a passion for atom-smashing have both gained PhDs in physics from the University of Warwick.

Twenty-six year olds Mark and Leigh Whitehead, originally from Maidstone in Kent, came to the University of Warwick as undergraduate students and both graduated with a first class MPhys in July 2008.

The pair stayed on at Warwick to complete PhDs in an area of particle physics which tries to understand the nature of matter in the universe.

They both graduated at a ceremony at Warwick Arts Centre.

Mark is now a post-doctoral researcher at Warwick, working on an experiment taking place at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva.

The LHC is most famous for the search for the Higgs Boson. However Mark is studying another particle known as a B-meson which is produced when protons collide inside the beam.

This particle could offer clues to solve one of the great mysteries of physics – why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe, a topic known as CP violation.

His brother Leigh is now at University College London and is working on a particle physics experiment at Fermilab in the US, studying subatomic particles called neutrinos.

These particles could also hold clues to explain the dominance of matter over antimatter.

Mark Whitehead said that from a young age the two brothers shared the same fascination with science.

“We were both good at the same things at school, coming top of the class for physics and maths,” he said.

“It made sense for us to come to Warwick to study together and then it seemed natural for us both to specialise in particle physics.

“But even though we’ve both ended up building our careers in the same area, outside our academic interests we like the same things – playing guitar, football and Formula One.”

The twins deny that there is any sibling rivalry when it comes to their academic careers.

Leigh Whitehead said: “We’re not that competitive to be honest – we always helped each other out in our studies and revision during our time at Warwick.

“And although we are working on separate experiments nowadays, we are still in touch by phone or email pretty much every day.”


For further information please contact University of Warwick press officer Anna Blackaby on 02476 575910 or


For further information please contact University of Warwick press officer Anna Blackaby on 02476 575910 or a dot blackaby at warwick dot ac dot uk