Verena Ingrid Martinez Outschoorn

Assistant Professor


Verena Ingrid Martinez Outschoorn

Primary Research Area

  • High Energy Physics
415 Loomis Laboratory

For more information


Professor Martinez Outschoorn received her bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics in 2005 and her Ph.D. in physics in 2011 from Harvard University. She was a Lederman Postdoctoral Fellow at Fermi National Lab from 2011 to 2014. She joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois as an Assistant Professor in 2014.

Professor Martinez Outschoorn's research is in experimental high energy physics, focusing on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. She is currently a member of the ATLAS Collaboration and has previously been a member of the CMS Collaboration.

Research Statement

I have been working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN since 2006. These years have been a very exciting era for particle physics with the construction, startup and running of the highest energy accelerator in the world. The LHC has given experimentalists access to energies that have never been explored before. The ATLAS and CMS experiments that I have worked on have already produced important discoveries and show potential hints of new physics. As experimenters at the LHC, we are all eagerly looking forward to collecting more data in the coming years to search for new physics that could help us better understand particle physics and possibly astrophysics and cosmology. The findings at the LHC could help answer important questions about the mechanism that gives rise to the observed light Higgs boson mass and the nature of dark matter.

My main physics interest is to search for new physics at the LHC. I am currently using the Higgs boson to search for new particles that could be indications of dark matter. I am also interested in searching for new particles that could explain why the Higgs boson is so light, like additional scalar particles or top partners. These signatures are often challenging to observe experimentally and require a detailed understanding of standard model backgrounds, particularly from events with top quark pairs.

I am working on improving the capabilities of the ATLAS experiment, focusing on the muon detectors. Muons are very powerful signatures of interesting events in LHC collisions and are therefore one of the most important triggers used to collect data. The LHC is expected to operate for many years and we will not be able to handle the large amounts of collisions expected in the future without the upgrades I am working on. We are designing and constructing upgrades to the trigger and readout of the muon spectrometer to improve its detection capabilities.

Research Honors

  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2017)

Related news

  • Accolades

Assistant Professors Verena Martinez Outschoorn and Liang Yang of the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have each been selected for 2017 NSF CAREER Awards. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award of the National Science Foundation is conferred annually in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars by integrating outstanding research with excellent education. Receipt of this honor also reflects great promise for a lifetime of leadership within recipients’ respective fields.

  • 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.”

  • In the Media
  • High Energy Physics

With the Higgs in hand, finding traces of dark matter is the next big hunt in high-energy physics.

The Standard Model of physics is what scientists consider their working picture of how fundamental particles behave and interact. But it “has some holes in it,” says Verena Martinez Outschoorn, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “We know that our worldview, our model, our understanding of particles and their interactions is kind of a subset of a bigger picture,” she says. “We have reason to believe there are other particles out there.”