National Science Foundation supports research on dark matter
By Katie Neitz
Brooks Thomas, assistant professor of physics, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, which will support his research on dark matter and provide research opportunities to Lafayette students.
The three-year $135,000 grant will help fund Thomas’s work as a theoretical particle physicist whose primary focus is on identifying the nature and properties of the as-yet mysterious dark matter in our universe. It is Thomas’ second NSF grant; he received a three-year $120,000 award in 2017.
“One of the things I’m particularly excited about right now is the possibility that we might be able to learn things about the fundamental properties of the dark matter by studying the way in which it is spatially distributed throughout our universe, whether that distribution is clumpy of smooth, and what the range of sizes for the clumps is,” Thomas says.
A portion of this award will support undergraduate involvement in research. In addition, the grant will fund computing resources Thomas will use to perform computer simulations to help guide experimental searches for dark matter. The funding will also enable Thomas to travel to workshops to share his work and further his collaborations with other researchers. “At a time in which budgets are generally shrinking, it was a wonderful affirmation of my work,” he says.
Watch this video to learn more about Thomas’ work and how he collaborated with EXCEL Scholar Ethan Garvey ‘19, who is now pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at Northwestern University.