James Unwin Wins Humboldt Fellowship

Dec 08, 2016

JU-photo-2016Visiting Research Assistant Professor James Unwin has been named a Humboldt Research Fellow by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The foundation, based in Germany, supports cutting-edge research by scientists around the globe. The fellowship will provide support for Dr. Unwin to travel to the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) Research Institute in Hamburg, Germany, where he will be part of an international team investigating the observational impact of dark matter.

Dr. Unwin’s research in theoretical particle physics explores new ideas that could explain the origin and nature of dark matter. While scientists have long agreed that dark matter exits, it has never been directly observed. As a result, little is understood about what dark matter is or how it behaves. A theoretical physicist, Dr. Unwin is part of the effort to find frameworks that could help scientists finally ​pin down this elusive particle. He studies the results produced by astrophysics, cosmology, and particle collider experiments in search of anomalies that are not explained by the prevailing interpretive framework. Dr. Unwin ultimately wants to bridge the gaps between the available theoretical models and the results churned out by experimental physics. Both the theoretical and experimental aspects of physics are needed because, as Dr. Unwin explains, “Without both, we would have results but wouldn’t be able to understand why we have them.”

The Humboldt Fellowship could bring Dr. Unwin closer than ever to ​developing a framework for observing dark matter. DESY is one of the premier research institutions in the field of dark matter, and as a researcher there, Dr. Unwin will be elbow-to-elbow with leading scientists in his field. The fellowship also provides a unique level of career support. According to Dr. Unwin, “The wonderful thing about Humboldt is that it commits funds for ongoing collaboration.” That means the collaborations Dr. Unwin strikes up at DESY will not necessarily end when the fellowship does. That’s not just good news for now, but good news for the future.

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