Daniel Grin Named a KITP Scholar
Over the next three summers, the assistant professor of physics and astronomy will receive funding to augment his research in theoretical physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California Santa Barbara.
This summer Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Daniel Grin, who joined the Haverford faculty at the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year, will be visiting the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara for a fully funded summer research venture. Grin was selected as a KITP Scholar, a distinction given to researchers in theoretical physics that are faculty at teaching-intensive U.S. colleges.
Grin will utilize the gorgeous oceanside Santa Barbara facility to further his understanding of neutrinos, tiny, light subatomic particles that lack an electric charge. By observing the rate at which the particles collide with each other, he strives to gain insight on the origin of their mass and the nature of their interactions. In layman’s terms, according to Grin, his work will be “using the cosmos to understand the particles within it.”
“I feel lucky and privileged to have this opportunity,” he says. He is not only grateful to receive recognition of his work, but he’s also excited to use the research experience to create more opportunities for students.
At Haverford, he has worked with physics students on a different type of particle called the axion. Named after a laundry detergent in the 1970s, the particle is a hypothetical way to explain the symmetry of nuclear force, and may help explain the phenomenon of dark matter. Recent physics majors Emery Trott ’17 and Jonathan Cookmeyer ’17 were working with Grin on the axion during their senior thesis research. This summer KINSC scholar Gabe Given ’18 will also be working with Grin on axions, and Nick Sweeney ’19 will work on similar research in the fall. Much of the undergraduate student research with these theoretical particles is what Grin calls “forecasting work,” using cosmological data to create theoretical predictions of how a model will behave. This sets the foundation for new ideas and theories about the universe and how it functions.
KITP selects only six to eight scholars a year, giving them funding for up to three round trips to UCSB and six weeks of living expenses. Grin plans to use his award to travel to UCSB each of the next three summers. He looks forward to surrounding himself with renowned minds in the field of theoretical physics in a place that is as intellectual as it is picturesque. In an environment he called “very low key and collegial,” he envisions being surrounded by a world-class cohort of theoretical physicists who made be able to lend their own interdisciplinary insights to each other’s work.
Grin holds a Ph.D. from Caltech and was a postdoc at the University of Chicago. Currently in his first year as a member of the physics department, he taught “Mechanics of Discrete and Continuous Systems” last fall, and finished teaching “Advanced Quantum Mechanics” this past semester. He is teaching two classes in the fall and will continue to support student research in theoretical and computational physics.