NYU physicist wins presidential early career award

November 02, 2007

New York University's Kyle Cranmer, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics, has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The awards, announced yesterday by the White House, identify outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to federal agencies.

The PECASE Awards are the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their careers. The awards are conferred annually at the White House following recommendations from participating federal agencies.

Cranmer, 30, is searching for the only particle of the Standard Model of Particle Physics that scientists have yet to detect--the Higgs boson, or particle. The Standard Model of Particle Physics describes the universe in terms of its fundamental particles and the forces between them.

"Our current Standard Model of Particle Physics has been very successful, surviving numerous tests over the last several decades, but there is reason to believe it is incomplete," Cranmer explains. "The Higgs boson is a vital piece of the Standard Model because it explains why fundamental particles have mass and is needed for consistency in the other aspects of our theory."

"The last two generations of experiments have not been able to observe the Higgs, but only place limits on its mass," Cranmer added. "By contrast, theoretical arguments and other indirect measurements provide an upper-level estimate of its mass."

Cranmer and other NYU physicists are part of a world-wide collaboration to investigate the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shape the universe. The collaboration, dubbed ATLAS, is attempting to detect the Higgs boson using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The highest energy collider ever built, LHC has enough energy to detect the remaining mass range for the Higgs boson.

"If the Higgs exists, we should observe it in the ATLAS detector," Cranmer observed. "If we don't observe the Higgs, it will be a major sign that the Standard Model is not complete."

Prior coming to NYU this year, Cranmer was a Goldhaber Fellow at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He has a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from Rice University (1999) and a masters degree and doctorate in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

New York University

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