What I Do
The Standard Model (SM) of fundamental quantum force and matter dynamics that describes our world micro-physically is an astonishing success, with confirmation from experiment of un-paralled precision. Similarly, General Relativity (GR) has had all its fundamental predictions gloriously verified, including, in recent years, direct observation of both gravitational waves and astrophysical black holes. Nevertheless, both theories leave much to be desired, and are clearly simultaneously incomplete and unsatisfying in their description of nature. For instance, the SM fails to account for dark matter or baryogenesis, and much of its fundamental structure and all of its parameters are not explained. GR fails to account for the initial conditions of the Big Bang, and breaks down at singularities. Moreover we still have a poor understanding of how quantum field theory and gravity mesh together in a more complete theory, and the experimental/observational consequences of such a theory.
I desire my work in theoretical physics to be of importance and to be fun.
Thus my research focuses upon the foundational issues of the SM, and its extensions as motivated by theoretical and experimental puzzles, as well as relevant aspects of GR. In recent years I also became a member of four new experimental collaborations in the UK/USA (AION, MAGIS-100, QSHS, & QUEST-DMC) which utilise the amazing recent and ongoing progress in quantum-enhanced technologies to investigate questions in fundamental physics.
I am particularly pleased to have helped a number of generations of young scientists, both here in the UK and abroad, to realise their potential and become world-leading research scientists at top universities and research institutes. Almost 30 of the young theorists I have mentored in the USA/UK/EU over the years are now tenured/tenure-track or have prestigious research positions, including more than 15 of my past Oxford DPhil students. They are my most important contribution to physics!
Academic Career: I got my Physics BSc from Imperial College and then went on to Harvard for my PhD where I was jointly supervised by Sidney Coleman and Frank Wilczek, gaining my PhD in 1990. I then became a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University, a DOE Distinguished Research Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a Long-term Member (junior faculty) at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. In 1998 I went to CERN in Geneva for a faculty position, joining the Sub-department of Theoretical Physics and New College at Oxford University in 2002 before becoming a Full Professor in 2005. Since 2005 I have held Visiting Professorships at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, the Galileo Galilei Institute in Florence, Italy, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. I've been very fortunate in having had the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by an extraordinary group of theorists over the years, including Tom Kibble, Chris Isham, Paul Ginsparg, Luis Alvarez-Gaume, Howard Georgi, Shelly Glashow, Roy Glauber, Bert Halperin, John Preskill, and most of all Sidney Coleman, Frank Wilczek and Savas Dimopoulos. I thank them all.
Major Awards & Honours: Granville Prize (top graduating physical sciences student, London University); Callendar Prize; Frank Knox Fellowship; Harvard White Prize (twice); W.M. Keck Foundation Fellowship; A.P. Sloan Foundation Award; DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award (declined); Arts and Humanities Research Board Fellowship; Arts Council of England Award; Royal Society Wolfson Award; Simons Foundation Visiting Professorship (twice); Distinguished Visiting Research Chair, Perimeter Institute.