Physics of Dark Matter & Hidden Particles

The Universe is indescribably vast, with at least 100 billion galaxies comprised of around 100 billion stars each. However, all of the light we see from these stars is only a small fraction of the total mass in the Universe: 80% of the matter is instead made up of "dark matter", and we don't know what it is or what it's made of. Our group does research in particle physics, and by studying the tiniest components of nature we seek to understand the composition and forces that make up dark matter.

The particle physics group at HMC is making progress on this question in two main ways. First, we use the data from high-energy particle collisions to look for unexpected signals of dark matter. HMC is a member of the BaBar Experiment, which is an electron-positron collider based at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and our local BaBar group has established several world-leading constraints on certain dark matter models; we have also used data and simulations to study the signals of dark matter at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Second, we use theoretical models of the early Universe to quantitatively determine how hypothesized particles and forces could influence the evolution of the Universe and comprise the dark matter, which allows us to connect cosmology with terrestrial experiments.

The work you will undertake depends on your interests and background, but can include Monte Carlo simulations, data analysis, machine learning techniques, or numerically solving complicated sets of differential equations.

Short Paragraph "Essay": It would be helpful in a few sentences to hear about why you are interested in doing research, what appeals to you about research in particle physics, and if you have particular skills that could contribute to research in our group (including computational skills, math/physics training, communication, etc). Optional: if you have encountered any barriers to get to where you are now, or other considerations that you would like me to take into account in evaluating your responses, feel free to comment on these. I will keep your answers confidential.


Name of research group, project, or lab
HMC Particle Physics
Why join this research group or lab?

This project is an exciting opportunity for students at all levels to get involved in research that seeks to improve our understanding of the Universe on a fundamental scale. You will learn how to tackle these abstract problems using concrete, quantitative tools. Our group includes approximately 6-7 research students working on inter-related projects - this gives you an opportunity to work independently on your own project but with the support of others in the group.

Representative publication
Logistics Information:
Project categories
Data Science
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

Applicants should have completed or received credit for Physics 23 (Special Relativity) or equivalent. Experience with programming (Python or C++) or software such as Mathematica and Matlab is preferred.

Time commitment
Summer - Full Time
Paid Research
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Depending on the project, students will gain analytical, computational, and numerical skills including working with large datasets, solving complicated systems of equations, and performing numerical simulations. Our group presents our major results at local meetings, national conferences, and in peer-reviewed publications, and this will allow you to develop skills in technical communication.

Contact Information:
Brian Shuve
Name of project director or principal investigator
Brian Shuve
Email address of project director or principal investigator
3 sp. | 33 appl.
Hours per week
Summer - Full Time
Project categories
Physics (+1)
PhysicsData Science