Professor receives Simons Fellow Award in theoretical physics

Andrei Derevianko recognized by Simons Foundation

Professor receives Simons Fellow Award in theoretical physics

Andrei Derevianko recognized by Simons Foundation

University Physics Professor Andrei Derevianko was awarded the prestigious Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics from the Simons Foundation. The foundation recognizes scholars in the areas of mathematics and theoretical physics.

"Derevianko's prestigious award is well deserved," Jeff Thomson, dean of the College of Science, said. "This recognition with other top scholars demonstrates the significance of his contributions in the field of theoretical physics. He has already made seminal contributions to physics and contributions to the University with his research in atomic theory."

Over 57 awardees were recognized nationally by the Simons Foundation and Derevianko is one of only 17 scholars to receive the award for theoretical physics. Derevianko accompanies professors from other top universities and colleges in the United States such as Vanderbilt University, University of California, Los Angeles and Cornell University, to name a few.

Derevianko is currently on sabbatical to focus on his research in theoretical atomic physics. He will be spending one semester at Harvard University and a couple of months at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He will also attend conferences around the world in New Zealand, Hawaii and Tokyo. The money he received from the Simons Foundation is helping make this possible.

"In the field we are always trying to communicate with other researchers to spark new ideas," Derevianko said. "My time on sabbatical will allow me to bring back new ideas to the University and to gain more knowledge for the students."

One of the areas which he will be researching is atomic clocks and the effects which dark matter have on the clocks. Derevianko calls it one of the biggest puzzles of modern physics.

"One of the ideas that we entertaining is the search for dark matter," Derevianko said. "As humans we are made up of matter but only five percent of the universe is atoms and molecules and the other 95 percent is dark energy and dark matter."

Modern atomic clocks are well controlled and characterized based on the established laws of physics. However, Derevianko is interested in understanding some non-conventional effects, such as interaction with dark matter that could throw off the clock.

"What we are trying to do is see if the dark matter has an effect on the clocks," Derevianko said. "For example if a lump of dark matter passes through an atomic clock then it can perturb it. But it is not only about trying to make the clock accurate it is about something that we don't know about. It is about gathering a better understanding of something that we don't fully understand."

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