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).


Recent News

  • Accolades

Associate Head for Graduate Programs and Professor S. Lance Cooper has been awarded the 2018 Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award of the Office of the Provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

One of the Campus Awards for Excellence in Instruction conferred annually at the campus’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence, this accolade recognizes sustained excellence in graduate student mentoring; innovative approaches to graduate advising; major impact on graduate student scholarship and professional development; and other contributions in the form of courses and curricula, workshops, or similar initiatives. Cooper was presented with the award on April 12, 2018.

The University of Illinois has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue funding for the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois. The program, started in 2015, supports underrepresented minority doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and math fields and is one of nine UCEMs throughout the country.

The UCEM emphasizes mentoring, professional development and social activities to build a community of scholars. The center hosts an extensive orientation program for new students, workshops and seminars in addition to financial support in the form of scholarships. The center also works with departments to set up a mentoring team for each scholar and monitors academic and research progress.

  • Events

Sir Anthony Leggett, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, turned 80 years old on March 26. To celebrate, the Department of Physics is hosting a physics symposium in his honor, with participants coming from around the world. The symposium, “AJL@80: Challenges in Quantum Foundations, Condensed Matter Physics and Beyond,” is targeted for physicists and requires pre-registeration. It begins tonight, Thursday evening, and will go through Saturday evening (March 29 – 31, 2018).

In conjunction with the symposium, two public presentations will be offered back-to-back on Friday, March 30, starting at 7:30 p.m., at the I Hotel and Conference Center’s Illini Ballroom. (1900 S. First St., Champaign). There is no admission fee and registration is not required—all are welcome.

  • In the Media
  • Biological Physics

In a paper in Nano Letters ("Optical Voltage Sensing Using DNA Origami"), a research team, led by Keyser, Philip Tinnefeld from the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Technical University Braunschweig, and Aleksei Aksimentiev from the University of Illinois at urbana-Champaign, has now reported for the first time, that a voltage can be read out in a nanopore with a dedicated Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensor on a DNA origami.