Why do firefighters wear shiny helmets?
Scott Willenbrock received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas-Austin, in 1986. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison from 1986 until 1988, and as a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1988 until 1993. While at Brookhaven, he also worked as a guest scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. In 1993, he joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A specialist in elementary particle theory, Professor Willenbrock's research accomplishments cover a wide variety of topics in high energy physics, ranging from relevant and influential highly technical calculations of higher-order corrections in quantum field theory to vitally important insights into the phenomenology of elementary particles. He is a world-recognized expert on the physics of high energy colliders, including the physics of the top quark, intermediate vector bosons, and Higgs particles. His research has focused on reliable predictions for electroweak phenomenology and specific methods for determining new physics at the electroweak energy scale and on the specific mechanisms of electroweak symmetry breaking. His recent work has included a detailed analysis of single top quark production processes and the expectations for the associated production of light Higgs particles at future hadron colliders. His work has important implications for future upgrades to the Tevatron collider at Fermilab and the physics program of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Professor Willenbrock is also a gifted teacher, who has received a number of teaching awards, including the Alpha Lambda Delta Award for "Outstanding Teacher of Freshmen." That he received this award as the main lecturer in Physics 211, the mandatory introductory general mechanics course for all Illinois engineering students, makes his achievement — and the measure of his skills and commitment — all the more remarkable.
Elementary particle theory
The high-energy theory group has a wide variety of research interests. Topics include the top quark, electroweak symmetry breaking, quantum chromodynamics and lattice field theory, standard-model phenomenology, dynamical supersymmetry breaking, duality in supersymmetric field theory and string theory, M theory, and grand unification.
Strong and electroweak interactions
The top quark, discovered in 1995, is the most recently discovered fundamental particle of nature. It is much heavier than the other five known quarks and may therefore be exotic in some way. We perform theoretical calculations related to measurements, which will be made in the near future, to test the properties of the top quark. Hopefully, these measurements will point the way to understanding nature at a deeper level. We are studying the mechanism responsible for breaking the electroweak symmetry, which ultimately generates the masses of all elementary particles.
437C Loomis Laboratory
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