Scott Willenbrock

Scott Willenbrock
Scott Willenbrock

Primary Research Area

  • High Energy Physics
Professor Emeritus
(217) 333-4392
437C Loomis Laboratory
Research Professor
(217) 333-4392
437C Loomis Laboratory

For More Information


  • Ph.D., Physics, University of Texas-Austin, 1986


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.

Research Statement

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.

Selected Articles in Journals

Teaching Honors

  • Sony/Bardeen Faculty Scholar, College of Engineering (2007-2010)
  • Incomplete list of teachers ranked as excellent by their students (Fall 1995, Fall 1997, Spring 1998, Spring 1999, Spring 2000, Spring 2001, Fall 2001, Fall 2005, Spring 2006, Fall 2006, Spring 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016)
  • Rose Award for Teaching Excellence, College of Engineering (2001)

Research Honors

  • American Physical Society Fellow (2006-present)
  • Fellow in the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois (1996-1997)

Recent Courses Taught

  • PHYS 101 - College Physics: Mech & Heat
  • PHYS 102 - College Physics: E&M & Modern
  • PHYS 211 - University Physics: Mechanics

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Fall 2016PHYS 435
Spring 2016PHYS 150
Fall 2015PHYS 150, 199
Spring 2013PHYS 150
Spring 2012PHYS 150
Spring 2011PHYS 150
Spring 2009PHYS 211
Spring 2008PHYS 575
Fall 2006PHYS 436
Spring 2006PHYS 435
Fall 2005PHYS 436
Spring 2005PHYS 435
Spring 2002PHYS 387
Fall 2001PHYS 386
Spring 2001PHYS 475
Fall 2000PHYS 387
Spring 2000PHYS 386