"Affirmative interventions in undergraduate classrooms"
Kerstin Perez is originally from West Philadelphia, and earned her B.A. in physics from Columbia University in 2005. She received her Ph.D. from Caltech in 2011, where her research focused on commissioning the ATLAS pixel detector in preparation for the very first LHC collisions and on understanding hadronic jet physics with initial data. She then returned to Columbia University as an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow, developing the GAPS Si(Li) detectors and NuSTAR Galactic Center analysis. In January 2015, she began as an Assistant Professor of Physics at Haverford College, before joining MIT as an Assistant Professor of Physics in July 2016.
Professor Perez is interested in using cosmic particles to look for beyond the Standard Model physics, in particular evidence of dark matter interactions. She leads the silicon detector program for the GAPS experiment, a balloon-borne instrument that aims to detect antideuteron and antiproton evidence of dark matter annihilation in the Galactic halo. As the first optimized experiment to search for low-energy antideuterons, which have been discussed for over a decade as a particularly low-background signature of dark matter, GAPS is poised to make a major contribution to the field. In addition, she is head of the analysis of high-energy X-ray emission in the inner parsecs of the Galaxy using the NuSTAR telescope array, and is involved in searches for X-ray signatures of exotic particle physics processes. She has also begun work on the prototype X-ray optics for the International Axion Observatory (IAXO), the upgrade to the CAST solar axion helioscope experiment.
In addition to mentoring students in research, Professor Perez has a passion for science education and outreach, placing particular emphasis on connecting with students who, because of cultural factors or lack of exposure, have not considered the career paths that a science education opens.