Tracy Slatyer, the Jerrold R. Zacharias Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics, has been named the first recipient of the School of Science’s Future of Science Award. A member of the Department of Physics and of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, Slatyer's research is motivated by fundamental mysteries in particle physics, in particular the nature of dark matter.
“Slatyer’s innate sense of curiosity, her ability to use cosmology and astrophysics to study particle physics, and vice versa, will lead to discoveries about the nature of the universe and, ultimately, our place in it,” says Michael Sipser, dean of the School of Science and the Donner Professor of Mathematics.
Slatyer’s research focuses on the nature of dark matter, the unknown substance that comprises more than 80 percent of the matter in the universe. She received a Department of Energy Early Career Award for her proposal to develop novel techniques to characterize and explore the possible signatures of dark matter in astrophysical and cosmological datasets.
Particular areas of focus include the imprints of dark matter and other new physics on signals from the early universe, the phenomenology of heavy dark matter interacting with lighter force-carrying particles, and disentangling possible faint dark matter signals from novel astrophysical phenomena using gamma-ray data.
Slatyer received her undergraduate degree from the Australian National University in 2005, and her PhD from Harvard University in 2010. She worked as a postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Study for three years before joining the MIT faculty in 2013. She was awarded the 2014 Bruno Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society for her discovery of the giant gamma-ray structures known as the Fermi Bubbles. This year, she was given the 2017 Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics by the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society.
The Future of Science Fund, generously seeded by alumni Jake Xia PhD '92, Jen Lu '90 SM '91, Amy Wong ’90, Brad Hu ’84, Senad Prusac ’90, Bill Park ’93, and parents and donors Marina Chen and Chi-Fu Huang, provides unrestricted funds to support School of Science faculty and students.