Hooberman, Shelton selected for DOE Early Career Awards

Siv Schwink

Assistant Professors Jessie Shelton and Benjamin Hooberman of the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been selected for 2017 DOE Early Career Awards. They are among 65 early-career scientists nationwide to receive the five-year awards through the Department of Energy Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program, now in its second year. According to the DOE, this year’s awardees were selected from a pool of about 1,150 applicants, working in research areas identified by the DOE as high priorities for the nation.

Assistant Professor Benjamin Hooberman
Assistant Professor Benjamin Hooberman
Hooberman is an experimental high energy particle physicist working with the ATLAS experiment, a large-scale collaboration of more than 3,000 scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator at CERN, Switzerland. In his research, he mines huge quantities of data obtained from millions of particle collisions, to uncover new physics beyond the standard model. His research group also contributed to the development of an upgraded ATLAS charged particle tracking detector and trigger systems, having performed extensive simulation studies to help guide the new design.

Hooberman specializes in the search for supersymmetric particles and evidence of extra dimensions of spacetime. In this same context, he is also working on one of the greatest puzzles in physics today—dark matter. The standard model, our best working model of the universe, falls short of explaining dark matter. 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 Hooberman’s research. A discovery would transform our understanding of the composition and fundamental laws of the universe.

Hooberman received a bachelor's degree in physics from Columbia University in 2005 and a doctoral degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. From 2009 to 2014, he held a postdoctoral appointment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, working as a member of the CMS collaboration at the LHC. He joined the faculty of Physics Illinois in 2014. He is a recipient of the CMS/LHC Physics Center Fellowship from Fermi Lab in 2013.

Assistant Professor Jessie Shelton
Assistant Professor Jessie Shelton
Shelton is a theoretical high energy particle physicist. Her research focuses on a broad range of unsolved problems in particle physics beyond the standard model. She uses the formal aspects of particle phenomenology, coupled with big data from particle accelerators, to generate mathematical models of the nature of matter and dark matter. She is particularly interested in dark matter, top quarks, and the Higgs boson. Her recent work has also focused on the physics of black-hole p-wave dark matter annihilation.

Shelton received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Princeton University in 2000 and a doctoral degree in physics from MIT in 2006. She held postdoctoral appointments at Rutgers, Yale, and Harvard before joining the faculty at Physics Illinois in 2014. She is the recipient of MIT’s Andrew M. Lockett Award for Excellence in Theoretical Physics (2006) and the LHC Theory Initiative Travel and Computing Award (2011).


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Assistant Professor of Physics Thomas Faulkner has been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science to receive an Early Career Award. The DOE Early Career Research Program, now in its ninth year, provides award recipients with significant funding over a five year period. Faulkner is among 84 scientists at U.S. universities and DOE-supported national laboratories to be selected this year. He is one of only two scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to receive the honor this year.

The Early Career Award recognizes promising scientists within 10 years of having earned their doctoral degrees, working in research areas supported by the DOE Office of Science. Faulkner’s research proposal in theoretical high-energy physics is entitled, “New perspectives on QFT and gravity from quantum entanglement.”