This award funds the research activities of Professor Patrick Draper at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the highest-energy particle collider and the most advanced scientific instrument in high-energy physics (HEP). The US HEP community occupies a leadership role in experiments at the LHC, driving fundamental research at the energy frontier. In the next several years, physicists will use the LHC and other complementary experiments to search for new particles, forces, and laws of nature. This broad program advances the national interest by spearheading progress in basic science. In his research, Professor Draper studies the properties and experimental signatures of new physical phenomena connected with the Higgs boson, a long-sought particle discovered in a landmark achievement during an earlier run of the LHC. By mapping out the signatures and deeper implications of new physics connected with the Higgs boson, the research program directly contributes to the exploration of pressing questions in fundamental physics. This research is also well-suited to the involvement of advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs. By engaging younger scientists at a range of levels, the program contributes to the broader impact of rigorously training future scientific leaders and the broader STEM workforce.
More technically, Professor Draper will study the phenomenology and implications of extended scalar or Higgs sectors. He will study anomalous sigma models, in which new light states associated with the spontaneous breaking of new global symmetries mix with pseudoscalar mesons, leading to novel signatures at the LHC. He will also explore the question of what can be inferred from the discovery of new scalars about the structure of electroweak symmetry breaking and underlying mechanisms of electroweak naturalness. He will study, for example, how the discovery of a second Higgs doublet or singlet would point to the scale of supersymmetry breaking, and how discrete symmetries might control the pattern of symmetry breaking with additional Higgs states. He also will continue his studies of connections between the electroweak hierarchy problem and the strong CP problem, using, for example, the phenomenology of composite scalar sectors to describe new ways in which high-energy colliders can probe solutions to the strong-CP problem.