School of Humanities and Sciences
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Associate Professor of Photon Science and, by courtesy, of Chemistry
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe research team Professor Gaffney leads focuses on time resolved studies of chemical reactions. Recent advances in ultrafast x-ray lasers, like the LCLS at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, enable chemical reactions to be observed on the natural time and length scales of the chemical bond – femtoseconds and Ångströms. The knowledge gained from x-ray and optical laser studies will be used to spark new approaches to photo-catalysis and chemical synthesis.
Associate Professor of Applied Physics and, by courtesy, of Neurobiology and of Electrical Engineering
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsTheoretical / computational neuroscience
Professor of Physics and, by courtesy, of Applied Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsHow do electrons organize themselves on the nanoscale?
We know that electrons are charged particles, and hence repel each other; yet in common metals like copper billions of electrons have plenty of room to maneuver and seem to move independently, taking no notice of each other. Professor Goldhaber-Gordon studies how electrons behave when they are instead confined to tiny structures, such as wires only tens of atoms wide. When constrained this way, electrons cannot easily avoid each other, and interactions strongly affect their organization and flow. The Goldhaber-Gordon group uses advanced fabrication techniques to confine electrons to semiconductor nanostructures, to extend our understanding of quantum mechanics to interacting particles, and to provide the basic science that will shape possible designs for future transistors and energy conversion technologies. The Goldhaber-Gordon group makes measurements using cryogenics, precision electrical measurements, and novel scanning probe techniques that allow direct spatial mapping of electron organization and flow. For some of their measurements of exotic quantum states, they cool electrons to a fiftieth of a degree above absolute zero, the world record for electrons in semiconductor nanostructures.
Assistant Professor of Applied Physics
BioBenjamin Good is a theoretical biophysicist with a background in experimental evolution and population genetics. He is interested in the short-term evolutionary dynamics that emerge in rapidly evolving microbial populations like the gut microbiome. Technological advances are revolutionizing our ability to peer into these evolving ecosystems, providing us with an increasingly detailed catalog of their component species, genes, and pathways. Yet a vast gap still remains in understanding the population-level processes that control their emergent structure and function. Our group uses tools from statistical physics, population genetics, and computational biology to understand how microscopic growth processes and genome dynamics at the single cell level give rise to the collective behaviors that can be observed at the population level. Projects range from basic theoretical investigations of non-equilibrium processes in microbial evolution and ecology, to the development of new computational tools for measuring these processes in situ in both natural and experimental microbial communities. Through these specific examples, we seek to uncover unifying theoretical principles that could help us understand, forecast, and eventually control the ecological and evolutionary dynamics that take place in these diverse scenarios.
Deborah M Gordon
Professor of Biology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsProfessor Deborah M Gordon studies the evolutionary ecology of collective behavior. Ant colonies operate without central control, using local interactions to regulate colony behavior.
Dr. Morris Herzstein Professor
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe study the molecular mechanisms by which chromatin-signaling networks effect nuclear and epigenetic programs, and how dysregulation of these pathways leads to disease. Our work centers on the biology of lysine methylation, a principal chromatin-regulatory mechanism that directs epigenetic processes. We study how lysine methylation events are generated, sensed, and transduced, and how these chemical marks integrate with other nuclear signaling systems to govern diverse cellular functions.
Associate Professor of Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWhat physics lies beyond the Standard Model and how can we discover it?
Professor Graham is broadly interested in theoretical physics beyond the Standard Model which often involves cosmology, astrophysics, general relativity, and even atomic physics. The Standard Model leaves many questions unanswered including the nature of dark matter and the origins of the weak scale, the cosmological constant, and the fundamental fermion masses. These clues are a guide to building new theories beyond the Standard Model. He recently proposed a new solution to the hierarchy problem which uses dynamical relaxation in the early universe instead of new physics at the weak scale.
Professor Graham is also interested in inventing novel experiments to discover such new physics, frequently using techniques from astrophysics, condensed matter, and atomic physics. He is a proposer and co-PI of the Cosmic Axion Spin Precession Experiment (CASPEr) and the DM Radio experiment. CASPEr uses nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to search for axion dark matter. DM Radio uses high precision magnetometry and electromagnetic resonators to search for hidden photon and axion dark matter. He has also proposed techniques for gravitational wave detection using atom interferometry.
Current areas of focus:
Theory beyond the Standard Model
Dark matter models and detection
Novel experimental proposals for discovering new physics such as axions and gravitational waves
Understanding results from experiments ranging from the LHC to early universe cosmology
Professor of Physics
BioGiorgio Gratta is a Professor of Physics at Stanford university where he is currently serving as chair of the Physics Department. Gratta is an experimentalist, with research interests in the broad area of the physics of fundamental particles and their interactions. While his career started with experiments at particle colliders, since at Stanford Gratta has tackled the study of neutrinos and gravity at the shortest distances. With two landmark experiments using neutrinos produced by nuclear reactors, made observations in the area of neutrino oscillations, and with one of them was first in reporting oscillations using artificial neutrinos and establishing the finite nature of neutrino masses. The same experiment was also first to detect neutrinos from the interior of our planet, providing a new tool for the Earth sciences. At a very different energy scale, Gratta and his group substantially advanced the techniques to detect ultra-high energy neutrinos in cosmic radiation, using acoustic signals in large bodies of water.
In more recent times, Gratta has led the development of liquid Xenon detectors in the search for the neutrinoless double beta decay, a nuclear decay that if observed would change our understanding of the quantum nature of neutrinos and help explaining the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the universe. Gratta is currently the scientific leader of one of the three very large experiments on the subject, world-wide.
In a parallel development, Gratta’s group is studying new long range interactions (or an anomalous behavior of gravity) at distances below 50 micrometers. This is achieved with an array of different techniques, from optical levitation of microscopic particles in vacuum, to the use of Mössbauer spectroscopy and, most recently, neutron scattering on nanostructured materials.