How can cow manure be used to power a rollercoaster?
Professor Mats Selen earned a B.S. in physics from the University of Guelph (1982), an M.Sc. in physics from Guelph (1983), and an M.A. in physics from Princeton University in 1985. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton in 1989. He was a research associate at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR) at Cornell University from 1989-1993. He joined the Department of Physics at Illinois in 1993 as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 1997, and to full professor in 2001.
Professor Selen is an extraordinary teacher, and his decision to accept a university position, rather than to remain a permanent staff researcher at a major particle physics facility, was motivated by his commitment to science education. Since coming to Illinois, he has been a prime mover behind the massive curriculum revision of the calculus-based introductory physics courses (Physics 211-214), and he was the first lecturer in the new sequence. He developed an undergraduate "discovery" course where freshmen create their own physics demonstrations — designed for grade school children — to introduce then to the fun and excitement of physics. He also started the Physics Van, our department's award-winning community outreach program and is a regular on local morning television as "The Whys Guy."
Already an international leader in experimental particle physics, Professor Selen has made significant contributions to four distinct research areas: (1) the measurement of the D* branching ratios and an analysis of D* mesons that set a new reference standard; (2) study of the charm quark and contributions to current understanding of charmed particles and their decays; (3) radiative and hadronic D decays; and (4) innovations in particle identification and data acquisition, including the invention of an entirely new method, Cherenkov correlated timing (CCT), which can separate from K mesons, up to momenta of 4 GeV/c. This novel idea has been successfully tested at the KEK high energy physics laboratory in Japan.
Profressor Selen's expertise in data acquisition and his work on Charm Physics was recongized by the American Physical Society when became a Fellow in 2006 "For leadership and hardware contributions to the CLEO collaboration and contributions to the understanding of charm hadrinic decays and excited states"
Selen is currently turning his research interest to astrophysics, joining the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration and starting work in the field of supernova physics.
Elementary Particle Physics and Astrophysics
The main thrusts of both high-energy physics and astrophysics 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. My group has played a key role on the CLEO experiment at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring since I started at the University of Illinois in 1993, and we are currently ramping up an effort on the Dark Energy Survey astrophysics experiment where we will study the origin of cosmic expansion
303 Loomis Laboratory
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