Benjamin Hooberman

Assistant Professor

Contact

Benjamin Hooberman

Primary Research Area

  • High Energy Physics
413 Loomis Laboratory
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Biography

Professor Hooberman received his Ph.D in physics from the University of California at Berkeley (2009) after obtaining a bachelor's degree from Columbia University (2005). After receiving his Ph.D, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (2009-2014), where he was a member of the CMS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). He joined the University of Illinois in 2014 as an assistant professor.

Professor Hooberman is an experimental physicist whose research focuses on using particle colliders to probe exotic new physics scenarios, including supersymmetric models and extra dimensions of spacetime. He is particularly interested in using data from colliders to investigate and understand dark matter.

His research began in the field of experimental cosmology, and focused on using measurements of the left-over radiation from the big bang (the "cosmic microwave background radiation") to better understand the evolution history of the universe. He transitioned to experimental particle physics in graduate school, where he searched for exotic new physics phenomena at the BaBar experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator, and performed detector research and development and physics simulation studies for a future high-energy lepton collider. As a research associate at Fermilab and a member of the CMS collaboration at the LHC, he searched for exotic new particles that are predicted by supersymmetric models and may explain the presence of dark matter in the universe. He continues these research topics as a member of the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois.

Research Interests

  • Tracking and vertexing simulation studies to guide the design of the upgraded ATLAS detector
  • Machine learning for particle physics applications
  • Fast hardware-based tracking with the ATLAS Fast TracKer
  • Research and development of novel silicon tracking sensor technologies
  • Supersymmetry and the potential connection with dark matter
  • Experimental high-energy particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider

Research Statement

In 2012, the Higgs boson was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland, completing the standard model of particle physics and leading to the Nobel Prize in 2013. This discovery transformed our understanding of the building blocks of matter and the fundamental forces by explaining the origin of the masses of subatomic particles and the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking. However, the standard model is not capable of resolving key open questions and thus cannot be the final theory of nature. In particular, it cannot explain the origin of dark matter, which comprises about five times as much total mass in the universe as visible matter but whose nature is not understood. The standard model also predicts that the mass of the Higgs boson should be at the Planck scale, 16 orders of magnitude larger than the electroweak scale at which it was measured (the "hierarchy problem"). Understanding the nature of physics beyond the standard model and its potential connection to dark matter is among the highest priorities of the LHC physics program and the focus of my research.

Supersymmetry (SUSY) is an extension to the standard model that may explain the origin of dark matter while resolving the hierarchy problem and leading to a grand unified theory of nature. SUSY is a symmetry between fermions and bosons, which predicts that each particle in the standard model has an associated "super-partner" with spin differing by 1/2. These exotic new particles may be produced in the proton-proton collisions at the LHC, leading to a rich phenomenology of possible detector signatures. My primary research thrust is the search for supersymmetry in data collected by the ATLAS detector at the LHC. To do so, my research group analyzes LHC data using the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, selects signal-like collision events, estimates rates for standard model background processes, and performs statistical analysis of the results. I have also played key leadership roles on both CMS and ATLAS that have provided me the opportunity to lead international teams of dozens of physicists in the search for supersymmetry at the LHC. My group also contributes to upgrades to the ATLAS charged particle tracking detector and trigger systems that will enhance the discovery reach in future data. A discovery would transform our understanding of the composition and fundamental laws of the universe.

Research Honors

  • CMS/LHC Physics Center Fellowship (Jan 2013)

Selected Articles in Journals

Articles in Conference Proceedings

Related news

  • Research
  • High Energy Physics

On the night of May 21, 2015, at CERN in Switzerland, protons collided in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the record-breaking energy of 13 TeV for the first time. These test collisions were to set up systems that protect the machine and detectors from particles that stray from the edges of the beam.

 

Illinois high-energy physicist Mark Neubauer comments, “While these were test collisions to help commission critical systems at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), it was the first time that proton-proton collisions have been achieved at this energy. This important milestone sets the stage for a physics run in early June that will be the beginning of a journey at this unprecedented energy to discover new physics beyond the standard model.

"Possible discoveries include observations of new particles or symmetries, elucidation of the nature of dark matter, a deeper understanding of the origin of particle masses, or unexpected new phenomena in the spirit of exploration in fundamental physics.”