Ronald Shellard began his journey in physics in the 1970s at the University of São Paulo, where he took his undergraduate degree, and at the Institute of Theoretical Physics of São Paulo State University, where he completed his master’s in 1973. He received his doctorate, titled “Particle physics field theory, dynamical symmetry breakdown at the two loop and beyond”, from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978 after also spending time at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
After a period working in theoretical particle physics, Shellard devoted himself to experimental and astroparticle physics. He joined the DELPHI collaboration at the former LEP collider at CERN in 1989, and in 1995 he joined the Pierre Auger Observatory, where he made an outstanding contribution both as a researcher and as an articulator of Brazilian collaboration. Remaining in the astroparticle field, during the past decade he was also involved in the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the Large Array Telescope for Tracking Energetic Sources and the Southern Wide Field Gamma-Ray Observatory.
Shellard played a key role in efforts to make Brazil an official member of CERN
From 2009 to 2013, Shellard was vice president of the Brazilian Physical Society. He participated tirelessly on various initiatives to promote Brazilian physics, such as the establishment of the exchange programme with the American Physical Society, the strengthening of the Brazilian physics Olympiad, the in-depth study of physics and national development, the establishment of the internship programme of high-school teachers at CERN, and the initiative to create a professional master’s degree in physics teaching. He was a member of the Brazilian Academy of Science since 2017, director of the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas since 2015 and president of the Brazilian network of high-energy physics since 2019. He played a key role in efforts to make Brazil an official member of CERN – a process that appears to be reaching a successful conclusion, with the CERN Council voting in September 2021 to grant to Brazil the status of Associate Member State, pending the signature of the corresponding agreement and its ratification by Brazilian authorities. Active until a few days before he passed away on 7 December, Ron was very excited about this news and was making plans for the next steps of the accession procedure.
Ron Shellard had an innovative and sensibly optimistic spirit, with a comprehensive and progressive vision of the crucial role of physics, and science in general, for the progress of Brazilian society. He exerted a great influence on the formation of the research community in high-energy physics. He was the advisor of several graduate students and had a permanent commitment to the training of new scientists and the dissemination and popularisation of science in the country.