Radiochemist by training, Hugh Delagrange presented his doctoral thesis in 1977, at the Center for Nuclear Studies of Bordeaux- Gradignan, on the study of fission process at medium energy. He continued working on this subject as a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry at the University of New York at Stony Brook, USA. Alongside an original experimental contribution to the study, by radiochemical methods, of fission -evaporation competition in actinides he developed a model for calculating the probability of fission for reactions induced by heavy ions.
In the early 1980s, he was one of the first permanent physicists in the new laboratory of GANIL in Caen. He participated in the construction of experimental areas including the chamber CYRANO measuring particles and gamma . It was during these 15 years in GANIL that he contributed to the development of the scientific programme of GANIL and improving the IT services available to the users. He was successively Head of Acquisition, responsible for providing to the users of GANIL a common data acquisition system for all experiments. He then coordinated activities related to industrial applications beams at GANIL ( microporous filters, microtip screens) and tools developed in the laboratory ( ECR sources , electronic modules). Based on this experience, he made himself available to the new company GANELEC to commercialize these resources of GANIL . He contributed significantly to studies related to the stability limit of exotic nuclei with the LISE spectrometer; also to the design of photon detector TAPS, the first European project of GANIL that sealed the collaboration between the two competing laboratories, GANIL and GSI Darmstadt. Based on his experience and his knowledge on technology transfer he contributed to the creation of the company GANELEC, responsible for commercializing the technologies developed at GANIL.
In the late 1990s, he joined the laboratory Subatech which had been engaged in an ambitious construction programme for the STAR experiment at RHIC at Brookhaven and the ALICE experiment at CERN. He organized the electronics service laboratory to meet these challenges, in particular for the construction of detectors like the inner tracker of STAR and ALICE. In physics, he led the group of Subatech involved in the PHENIX collaboration on photon physics. With the start of the LHC, he entirely devoted his energies to the physics of photons while directing the PLASMA group in Subatech.
Hughes has trained many young physicists, some of whom are now key players in heavy ion physics. The many colleagues who were close to him during his multifaceted career in Bordeau, Nantes, through Stony Brook, GANIL, Groningen, Munster, Giessen , Darmstadt, Brookhaven, CERN, all enjoyed his lifestyle and his collaborative spirit. As Bill Zajc, former spokesman for the PHENIX collaboration summarized: "Hugh was the personification of French elegance and an ideal collaborator".
Outside of physics, Hugh had other passions, the piano, jazz and basketball. He could not resist a piano or an NBA game. Last year, at a meeting of the ALICE collaboration, in a Roman palace of Frascati where the collaboration dinner was taking place, he found a piano and offered us some jazz tunes. It was his pleasure ... and ours.