Till Moritz Karbach (1979 - 2015)

Till Moritz Karbach, a 35-year-old physicist on the LHCb experiment, suffered a fatal fall on 9 April while rock climbing near the city of Pegnitz in southern Germany. Despite the immediate attention of his companions and the rapid arrival of medical help, he passed away at the scene of the accident.


Moritz joined the LHCb collaboration in the summer of 2009, having written his PhD thesis on data collected at the BaBar experiment at SLAC, California. At this time he was a postdoc in the Dortmund group, where he had also been a student. Two years later he relocated to Geneva, and in July 2012 began a CERN research fellowship.

Moritz’s contributions to LHCb were wide-ranging. He was a very active analyst, with particular interest in the measurement of the CP-violating phase γ, a topic that he had originally studied during his time on BaBar. He was a key player in several γ–related measurements, and the leading authority within the experiment on how the results of these measurements should be combined in order to achieve optimal precision for γ itself. Since the start of 2014 he had served as co-convener of the working group responsible for these analyses, a period during which LHCb began to achieve results significantly more precise than those obtained by previous experiments for the measurement of this fundamental parameter. His expertise and insight benefited many other areas of LHCb physics and in recent months he provided invaluable input to a paper reporting the measurement of the CKM matrix-element Vub with b-baryon decays, the first such analysis to be performed at a hadron collider.

It is unusual for an analyst to be equally adept as a detector physicist, but Moritz was such a scientist. He was deputy Project Leader of the Outer Tracker of the experiment, and had on-site responsibility for this sub-detector for much of Run 1. His speedy interventions and patient encouragement of less-experienced shift crew were vital in ensuring that the experiment collected high quality data. More recently he had begun to look forward, and had started to contribute strongly to research and development activities on the Scintillating Fibre Tracker, a detector foreseen for the LHCb upgrade.

Moritz believed strongly that it is the duty of physicists to explain their work to the outside world. He was heavily involved in the Masterclass programme, which aims to explain the process of particle-physics measurements to high-school pupils. He was also an enthusiastic and diligent supervisor of CERN summer students, and was keen to explore new methods of mentoring in order to ensure that the students derived the maximum benefit from their time at the Laboratory.

Away from his work, Moritz had a passion for rock climbing and the mountains. While a student he climbed frequently at Yosemite, and continued these activities in the Alps having moved to Geneva. In January this year he enjoyed a holiday in the Rocklands of South Africa.

His loss is deeply felt by his parents, brother and sister-in-law and other close family members. His many friends and LHCb colleagues mourn his passing.

His colleagues and friends

We deeply regret to announce the death of Till Moritz Karbach on 9 April 2015. Till Moritz Karbach, who was born on 8 November 1979, worked in the PH department and had been at CERN since 10 August 2009.

The Director-General has sent a message of condolence to his family on behalf of the CERN personnel.

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