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.
Essay: It would be helpful 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.
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.