retina fermi atlas

Research in high-energy particle physics and astrophysics is done in the setting of an organized research unit, the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics/SCIPP. With approximately two dozen faculty from Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics, and SCIPP appointments, plus post-docs, research staff, students, visitors, and administrative staff, SCIPP is home to vibrant and evolving research in experimental and theoretical particle physics and particle astrophysics. An especially exciting aspect of work in SCIPP is the productive interaction among the different research groups, including the close connections between theoretical and experimental work, on topics such as searches for the Higgs boson, supersymmetry, the nature of dark matter, tests of fundamental physics, and a wide variety of high-energy phenomena on the ground, in the atmosphere, and in space.

High Energy Theory

Theoretical particle physics is a major area of activity in the Physics Department and in the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. Much of the program is devoted to particle physics beyond the Standard Model, including supersymmetry model building and dynamics, axion physics, string theory and quantum gravity. Several lines of research pertain to theoretical particle physics relevant for the phenomenology of high energy colliders. There is also a major effort in the physics and cosmology of the very early universe, focused on dark matter, inflation and baryogenesis. This research program involves three faculty members (Michael Dine, Howard Haber, Stefano Profumo) as well as postdocs and graduate students.

High Energy Experiment

SCIPP faculty, research staff, students, engineers, and technicians play major roles in experiments at the frontier accelerator laboratories in the world, including CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), as well as in a variety of experiments that do not involve terrestrial accelerators, to answer the most important questions in particle physics and high energy astrophysics. These efforts usually include ground-breaking work on the technologies needed to advance this research, so SCIPP is recognized as a world leader in the development of custom readout electronics and silicon micro-strip sensors for state-of-the-art particle detection systems. Always creating new opportunities, SCIPP personnel are also pursuing the application of these technologies to other scientific fields such as neurophysiology and biomedicine.

Astrophysics And Cosmology Theory

The research interests of the group, consisting primarily of faculty members Aguirre, Primack and Profumo, as well as of postdocs and students, include: cosmological inflation and eternal inflation, heavy-element enrichment of the intergalactic medium (Aguirre), galaxy formation and evolution, large-scale structure, dark matter, semi-analytic modeling, N-body simulations, high-redshift galaxies and gravitational lensing (Primack), models for the baryon asymmetry in the universe, particle dark matter model building and searches, cosmic-rays and high-energy astrophysics (Profumo). The presence of a strong astrophysics group in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department in the same building, the High-Energy Astrophysics experimental group, and the TASC (Theoretical Astrophysical in Santa Cruz) institute provide healthy symbioses and opportunities in this area.

Astrophysics And Cosmology Experiment

This research area includes Professors David Smith, David Williams, and Tesla Jeltema as well as the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope group. The Smith group study high-energy radiation and the electromagnetic and plasma processes that generate it in several contexts. These include the astrophysical (accreting neutron stars and black holes), solar (flares) and terrestrial (thunderstorms and Earth's radiation belts). They seek connections among these fields in terms of observational techniques, existing sources of data, and similar physical processes. They work on instrumentation and data from spacecraft, balloons, and aircraft, as well as simulations that support the interpretation of these data. Professor Jeltema conducts research in the areas of observational cosmology, high energy astrophysics, and particle astrophysics, including constraints on the nature of dark matter and dark energy and studies of the evolution of galaxies. A particular emphasis of her work are studies of the formation and evolution of large-scale structure in the universe using observations covering a broad wavelength range and numerical simulations.


Our brain is a highly sophisticated system that receives information about the outside world, processes it, and determines our reaction to it. These functions are realized through billions of individual neurons that are connected in vast and complicated circuits and use electrical signals to communicate with each other. We use unique large scale multielectrode recording systems developed by a collaboration of physicists, engineers, and biologists to study function, development and treatment of neural circuits. The focus is mainly on visual system and the retina. One example is investigation of processes leading to "wiring up" of the complex retinal circuitry during development. Another, is development of photovoltaic retinal prosthesis capable of restoring vision to people with photoreceptor-degenerative diseases like Retinitis Pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration. This area of study is led by Alexander (Sasha) Sher and Alan Litke.


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Updated: March 2, 2018