Research in Progress

Introduction from the Dean

We invite you to explore the individual faculty and research pages under the department research links at right.

The Division carries out fundamental research in both traditional, core areas as well as multidisciplinary ones, which may not have existed even a decade ago. Mathematics faculty are often involved in solutions to extremely old problems using brand new methods developed specially to attack these deep questions. But within the Division, and the University as a whole, the boundaries of research are continually blurring, as, for example biology and chemistry come together on the molecular level to discover the basic processes of life, and to conquer disease.

Multidisciplinary research is enhanced by several internal faculty groupings that cross disciplines and departments. These include the James Franck and Enrico Fermi Institutes, which break down barriers between physicists, chemists, and astronomers, and the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, which connects scientists in the Division to biochemists and molecular biologists. The Committee on Evolutionary Biology draws on the expertise of fossil geologists, paleontologists, and field biologists. The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics combines physics and astronomy to answer the most fundamental questions of the origin and history of the Universe and the very nature and distribution of its matter and energy.

Another aspect of multidisciplinary research appears via the involvement of PSD faculty in large-scale, often multi-institutional research ventures. These ventures include:

They also include cooperative ventures using synchrotron X-ray sources to study protein crystallography, geophysics, surface science, and chemistry (Center for Advanced Radiation Sources at the Advanced Photon Source), and large-scale programs in astronomy (Sloan Digital Sky Survey Project and the Astrophysical Research Consortium Telescope, both located in New Mexico with remote operations possible from Chicago).

Research in the PSD is also augmented by associations with the staff of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, both of which are located in the suburbs of Chicago; these provide researchers here with easy access to unique, large-scale experimental resources in high-energy physics and in solid-state, nuclear and low-temperature physics, chemistry, computer science, and environmental science.

Angela V. Olinto
Dean of the Physical Sciences