This award funds the research activities of Professors Maria C. Gonzalez-Garcia, Patrick Meade, Leonardo Rastelli, Martin Rocek, Robert Shrock, Warren Siegel, George Sterman, and Alexander Zamolodchikov at Stony Brook University.
Physics is constantly evolving as new techniques and capabilities are developed to understand the natural world. This award supports research in a broad but deeply related set of topics in theoretical physics. Engagement at each of these frontiers of knowledge serves the national interest by advancing fundamental scientific progress within the United States. Investigations will include the analysis of high-energy collisions of elementary particles, which probe the fundamental laws upon which the material universe is based, and proposals for new experiments involving elementary particles and atomic nuclei. These efforts will complement studies of the deep mysteries of gravity, space and time, and the possibility that all of the known forces in nature are related, unifying gravity itself with the forces that are seen in electrical phenomena, in radioactivity, and in nuclear physics. The theoretical methods developed in quantum field theory have also been found to have exciting applications to the properties of solids and to turbulence in fluids. This project is also envisioned to have significant broader impacts. The research carried out under this award will serve in the training of graduate students and the mentoring of postdoctoral fellows at the highest level. The faculty of this proposal conduct their research with graduate students and share their experience and expertise with undergraduates and community members, in and beyond the classroom. Individual members will also continue their own outreach activities, which have included successful traditions in high-school research mentoring and in the organization of science playwriting competitions.
At the technical level, this award will support research over a wide range of theoretical physics, largely based on quantum field theory, phenomenological analysis, statistical mechanics, and string theory. Recent years have seen a strengthening engagement of theory and experiment in particle physics, synthesizing data from the Large Hadron Collider, from neutrino observatories, cosmic ray satellites and now gravitational wave detectors. These new sources of information concerning our universe enable theorists to test long-standing ideas against evolving data, and to develop new theoretical methods to guide experiment. Understanding the extraordinary successes of the Standard Model of particle physics and how it is embedded in a still more fundamental theory will require development of new precision techniques in perturbative and nonperturbative field theory. New approaches to the analysis of existing data on flavor quantum numbers and neutrino masses are under study. At the same time, novel applications of quantum field and string theory, including theory duality, conformal symmetries and integrability properties, have been developed in and beyond particle physics, opening unexpected avenues of research into condensed-matter physics, statistical mechanics, and pure mathematics. As active participants in these historic developments, the senior personnel of this award will investigate theoretical questions in such topics as quantum fields with and without supersymmetry, high-energy collider phenomenology, model-building, quantum chromodynamics, neutrino physics, astroparticle physics and astrophysics, applications of gauge-gravity duality, conformal field theory, the concept of theory space, extensions of the Standard Model, electroweak symmetry breaking, superstrings, and the geometry of supersymmetric gauge theories.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.