A FORMER Hereford High School for Boys pupil has had a research centre in Texas named after him.

The University of Texas named its new centre the Wootton Center for Astrophysical Plasma Properties after Alan Wootton.

The 70-year-old was a professor of physics at the university until he retired.

Alan was born in Chipping Norton in 1948 and moved when he was about two-years-old to Hereford.

His dad was a physics teacher at Hereford High School for Boys until he died in 1958, while his mum was an infant school teacher in Hereford.

Alan said: "I attended Hereford High School for boys from 1959 to 1966 and still keep in touch with a couple of my fellow students.

"I completed my PhD in physics at London University in 1973 and worked for a time for the United Kingdom Energy Authority outside Oxford."

In 1981 he moved to the USA.

For the past 10 years he worked part time for the University of Texas, with the idea of connecting academia in general, but especially science researchers at Texas with a national laboratory called Sandia for short in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Alan said: "Sandia has a facility called the 'Z machine' - the world's most powerful X-ray source.

"It uses high magnetic fields associated with high electrical currents to produce high temperatures, high pressures, and powerful X-rays, and creates conditions found nowhere else on Earth.

"Up until I got involved it was really only used by Sandia staff. I persuaded Sandia to start a Fundamental Science Program, allowing access to the Z machine for academics and their students and helped arrange for funding.

"Now students are involved in making ‘star stuff’: Yes, we make the condition near black hole or in the interior of our sun, or in dying stars, and study it."

It took 10 years before he felt everything was in place and running well and he could retire.

Alan added: "I was shocked but obviously pleased when this year it was announced that the University of Texas would name a new Research Centre after me: the Wootton Center for Astrophysical Plasma Properties.

"Plasma (not blood plasma) is what you get when you heat a gas to millions of degrees, and is what stars are made of."

He enjoys returning for trips to Herefordshire whenever he can.