George D. Gollin

Professor

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George D. Gollin

Primary Research Area

  • Physics Education
437D Loomis Laboratory

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Biography

Professor George Gollin grew up in Freeport, New York. He attended Harvard University as an undergraduate, receiving an AB in physics in 1975, and then Princeton University as a graduate student, earning a PhD in 1981. After a period as a Robert R. McCormick postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, he returned to Princeton as an assistant professor in 1983. Professor Gollin moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an associate professor in 1989, becoming a full professor in 1996.

Professor Gollin's research in experimental elementary particle physics has included participation in experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (near Chicago), the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (known by its French acronym, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland). His scientific interests tend to focus on questions concerning the structure and origins of the equations describing the interactions between matter and energy, as well as the fundamental nature of space and time at very small distance scales. He is presently involved in efforts to design the International Linear Collider, a very large electron-positron accelerator that will provide insight into the origins of particle masses and the differences between the nuclear and electromagnetic forces.

Professor Gollin participated in Fermilab E203/391, a muon scattering experiment, as a graduate student. He moved into K meson physics (in particular studies of CP and CPT symmetries in the neutral K sector) as a postdoc, working on Fermilab experiments 617, 731, 773, and 799. He was the spokesman for E773, a measurement of the phase difference between the two CP violation parameters η+- and ηoo. The precision of this measurement (which can be related to a CPT-violating mass difference between the K0 meson and its antiparticle) was within two orders of magnitude of the sensitivity required to detect effects at the Planck scale.

While completing the analysis of E773, Professor Gollin shifted his interest to the heavy quark physics being studied at the CLEO detector of the Cornell Electron Storage Ring. He has made important contributions to the basic hardware designs in the silicon vertex detector power distribution systems and to the electromagnetic calorimeter trigger.

Since 2002, Professor Gollin has been focusing on technical issues relating to the design and utilization of the International Linear Collider. He is a leader in the U.S. university-based research and design effort for the ILC and serves as a member of the Linear Collider Steering Group for the Americas. His research group at UIUC is currently investigating novel approaches to fast injection and extraction of ILC damping ring beams.

Professor Gollin is also an able and dedicated teacher. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate students and works occasionally with faculty in the departments of dance, architecture, library science, and speech communication on interdisciplinary projects. He took a lead role in developing two new intermediate mechanics courses to make them interesting, current, and relevant. He frequently appears on the University's list of "Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students." His latest curriculum development work includes the creation of an honors course in electrodynamics to accompany the standard curriculum's introduction to electricity and magnetism.

Gollin's interest in international higher education, with particular attention towards the difficulties in oversight and regulation of unaccredited schools, is a faculty public service activity that relies on both his pedagogical and technical skills. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in 2006.

Gollin ran for the United States House of Representatives in 2014, hoping to represent the Illinois 13th Congressional District. He was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, Springfield State Journal-Register, and Champaign News Gazette, and raised more than a half million dollars during his campaign. But his opponent was endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Senator Richard Durbin; this proved an insurmountable obstacle. He would have been the second scientist in a Congress currently comprising 217 attorneys.

Research Statement

Elementary Particle Experiment
The two main thrusts of high-energy physics research are to determine the form and strength of the fundamental interactions in nature and to determine the properties of the particles that enter into these interactions. Our group presently works on experiments at Fermilab, Cornell University, and CERN. We participated in the discovery of the top quark and the observation of CP violation in B-meson decays. In the future, we hope to observe the Higgs boson, thought to be responsible for the existence of mass.

CLEO Experiment at CESR
The CLEO experiment at the Cornell electron positron storage ring (CESR) studies the properties of the bottom and charmed quarks and the tau lepton. The primary goals of these studies are: (1) the understanding of the origin of the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa (CKM) mixing matrix, for which no dynamical theory exists; (2) understanding of time reversal symmetry violation, which appears to be a necessary prerequisite to the observed matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe; and (3) tests of the "standard model" of particle physics, whose very precise predictions have been tested very accurately, but which, nonetheless, is known not to be correct. Deviations from these predictions will tell us where the flaw lies.

International Linear Collider
The proposed International Linear Collider will be an enormous electron-positron collider approximately 30 km in length. Inside the ILC intense beams focused into ribbons of charge a thousand times thinner than a human hair will collide five times per second. Data from the ILC may provide insight into the origin of mass as well as the nature of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that fill the universe.

Mu2e Experiment at Fermilab
The proposed Mu2e Experiment at Fermilab will search for neutrinoless conversions of muons into electrons in the field of an aluminum nucleus. This perviously unobserved process could be mediated by the exchange of supersymmetric particles, and would be a sign of physics beyond the standard model.

Honors

  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow - June 15, 2009 - June 14, 2010
  • College of Engineering Advisors List for Advising Excellence, 2001
  • Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator, 1985-1989
  • Rose Award for Teaching Excellence, 2004
  • Arnold Nordsieck Award for Teaching Excellence, 2003
  • D.O.E. Outstanding Junior Investigator, 1985-1989

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

SemesterCourseOutstanding
Spring 2015PHYS 211
Fall 2013PHYS 212
Spring 2013PHYS 326
Fall 2011PHYS 325
Fall 2008PHYS 326
Spring 2008PHYS 325
Fall 2003PHYS 199
Spring 2003PHYS 199
Spring 2002PHYS 199