David W. Schmitz
Associate Professor of Physics
The University of Chicago
Department of Physics, The Enrico Fermi Institute, and The College
University of Chicago

As an experimental particle physicist, I want to understand the basic building blocks that make up our universe and the physical laws that govern how it behaves. It's incredible to me that by exploring subtle properties of fundamental matter in experiments here on Earth, we can help piece together a detailed understanding of the history of our universe back to its very earliest moments 13.7 billion years ago. We currently know of 12 fundamental matter particles (6 quarks and 6 leptons) and 4 forces that act on them (electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces). The detailed properties that we have managed to measure in experiments and the precise mathematical theory that describes the interactions between these particles are together known as the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

My research focuses on better understanding the neutrinos, listed as νe, νμ, and ντ in the diagram to the right. Neutrinos are the most abundant known matter particles in the universe, outnumbering protons, neutrons and electrons by a factor of a billion. They only interact through the most feeble of the four forces, the weak nuclear force, making them a challenge to detect and study, but also making them unique probes of new physics and potential messengers from across the cosmos.

For much more on my group's research, please see our site at voices.uchicago.edu/neutrino

Current research:

  • One primary effort at the moment is on the Fermilab Short-Baseline Neutrino (SBN) program (website, proposal) including the Short-Baseline Near Detector (SBND), MicroBooNE, and the ICARUS detector as the SBN Far Detector.

  • Our efforts in the SBN program are well aligned with our future goals of realizing the DUNE long-baseline neutrino experiment that seeks to determine, among other things, if neutrinos and antinuetrinos behave differently. If they do, then neutrinos may help us understand why our universe if made up of matter and not antimatter, a major unaswered question in fundamental physics today. DUNE will make the most precise measurements of neutrino and antineutrino oscillations in the world and explore a variety of other beam and cosmic related neutrino physics as well.

Past research:

University of Chicago Department of Physics Enrico Fermi Institute