Theoretical Physics Faculty

Igor Aleiner (Ph.D. Minnesota 1996) He specializes in interaction effects in disordered and mesoscopic systems; adiabatic pumping; applications of Random Matrix theory to solid state systems; metal-insulator transitions; quantum phase slips in superconducting wires.

Boris Altshuler (BA Leningrad State University (now St.Petersburg State University) 1976; Ph.D. Leningrad Institute for Nuclear Physics,1979 ) is a condensed matter physicist specializing in the condensed matter phyiscs of electrons in metals, semiconductors and superconductors, Quantum transport in disordered systems, Quantum nanodevices, and Quantum chaos.

Andrei Beloborodov (M.Sc. Phystech, Moscow 1991; Ph.D. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow 1995) is a theoretical astrophysicist. He specializes in high energy phenomena in the Universe: X-ray binaries, active galactic nuclei, and cosmological gamma-ray bursts. His major interests include the physics of black holes and neutron stars, the mechanism of relativistic explosions, and the related radiative processes

Allan Blaer (B.A. Columbia 1964; Ph.D. Columbia 1977) is a theoretician currently working in the field of statistical mechanics, with particular emphasis on the phase transitions of quantum systems at low temperatures. Using Monte Carlo simulation techniques, he has been studying the behavior of boson and fermion systems. His investigations have led to a better understanding of superfluid helium-4, superfluid helium-3, and the copper oxide superconductors. For the past twelve years, Blaer has been Director of Columbia University's Science Honors Program, a Saturday-morning program for 450 gifted high school students.

Norman Christ (B.A. Columbia 1965; Ph.D. 1966) is a theoretical physicist, whose major focus of research is the study of non-perturbative phenomena in Quantum Chromodyamics, addressing frontier questions in particle and nuclear physics. This research is performed using powerful, custom-built massively parallel computers and the techniques of lattice gauge theory. The properties of the quark-gluon plasma and the values of hadronic matrix elements needed to predict standard-model CP violation in Kaon decays are among the central questions that he and collaborators have been able to address using the 3-year-old, 1 Teraflops, 20,000-node QCDSP computer located at Columbia and the Brookhaven Laboratory.

Brian Greene (A.B. Harvard 1984; Ph.D. Oxford 1987) is a theoretical particle physicist specializing in unified theories and string theory. He has made major theoretical contributions to the understanding of spacetime in the context of quantum gravity and most recently is focusing on theoretical and possibly observational issues at the interface of string theory and cosmology. He is co-director of Columbia's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics.

Miklos Gyulassy (Ph.D UC Berkeley 1974) is a nuclear theorist working on the theory of QCD matter at extreme temperatures and densities, and on the phenomenology of high energy nuclear collisions at ultra-relativistic energies (Ecm ~ 100 AGeV). His group has developed over the past decade detailed dynamical parton and hadronic transport models to predict a wide spectrum of new observables in this energy regime. That work has had major impact this past year on the interpretation of new data from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven. The most recent publications from the PHENIX experiment verified their predictions that the extreme high opacity of the produced gluon plasma matter should quench the high momentum components of the hadronic spectra. This opens up the possible use of jet fragmentation as a novel nuclear tomographic tool to probe the evolution of the plasma on the tiny nuclear space-time scales.

Tim Halpin-Healy (A.B. Princeton 1981, PhD Harvard 1987) (Barnard College) is a theoretical physicist working in various topics of condensed matter physics and classical statistical mechanics. His primary research interests include phase transitions, field theory, critical phenomena, and the renormalization group. Secondary concerns include kinetic roughening, stochastic growth processes, reaction-diffusion systems, nonlinear dynamics, and pattern formation.

Lam Hui (B.A. Berkeley 1990; Ph.D. MIT 1996) is a theoretical astrophysicist specializing in cosmology. He has contributed to a variety of fields including the study of the Lyman-alpha forest, the thermal properties of the intergalactic medium, large scale structure, weak gravitational lensing, dark matter candidates, inflation, and extra-solar planetary transits. He is currently studying the implications of recent observations of high redshift quasar spectra for the reionization history of the universe, as well as the impact of short distance physics on inflationary fluctuations.

Janna Levin (M.I.T., Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics 1993) Janna Levin is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Her work focuses on theories of the Early Universe, Chaos, and Black Holes. Recently, she has discovered chaotic behavior in binary black hole systems -- systems that should be observable to gravitational wave detectors such as LIGO and LISA. She is also interested in the topology of the universe and the question of whether or not the universe is infinite. Other research topics include the cosmology of extra dimensions and string cosmology. Her second book – a novel, "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines" – is published by Alfred A. Knopf (2006). She is also the author of the popular science book, "How the Universe Got Its Spots: diary of a finite time in a finite space." In 2003 she received the Kilby Young Innovator Award.

Robert Mawhinney (B.S. Univ. of South Florida 1980; Ph.D. Harvard 1987) is a theoretical particle physicist specializing in large scale numerical calculations in quantum field theory. Part of his effort is devoted to designing, building and programming purpose-built computers for simulations of the theory of the strong nuclear force, Quantum Chromodynamics. The most recent such computer, QCDSP (Quantum Chromodynamics on Digital Signal Processors), has been running for about 3 years and, using this machine, Mawhinney and his collaborators have recently completed a first-principles calculation of CP violation in kaon decays.

Andrew Millis (A. B. Harvard College 1982; Ph.D. MIT 1986) is a theoretical condensed matter physicist specializing in the physics of interacting electrons in metals. He has made important contributions to the understanding of novel metallic systems including heavy fermion metals and high temperature superconductors. He is currently a leader of a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center focusing on 'colossal magnetoresistance' manganites. Millis is presently Chair of the advisory board for the Institute of Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara.

Alfred Mueller (B.S. Iowa State University 1961; Ph.D. MIT 1965) is a high-energy theoretical physicist specializing in the properties of QCD at high energy and at high density. His focus over the past few years has been on understanding parton saturation, the ultimate limit of quark and gluon densities, in high-energy scattering and in the early stages of heavy ion collisions.

Alberto Nicolis (Ph.D. 2003 Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa) is a theoretical physicist focusing on theoretical high energy physics, in particular on quantum field theory, gravity, and cosmology. Recent and ongoing projects include: theoretically and observationally consistent long-distance modifications of general relativity; a field-theoretical description of hydrodynamics, with applications in condensed matter systems, heavy-ion collisions, cosmology; an effective field theory for cosmological perturbations; consistent, null energy condition violating systems as alternatives to primordial inflation.

Malvin Ruderman (A.B. Columbia 1945, PhD Caltech 1951 ) works mainly in theoretical astrophysics. He has done pioneering research in collapsed stellar objects, especially neutron star structure and phenomena (birth, crusts, interior quantum fluids, spin-period jumps, magnetic field evolution, cooling). His recent work has emphasized understanding the various kinds of radiation emitted by such objects (radio and gamma-ray emission from pulsars, neutrinos, particle accelerators powered by neutron star spin, sources of cosmic gamma-ray bursts).

Erick Weinberg (B.S. Manhattan 1968; Ph.D. Harvard 1973) is a theoretical high energy physicist. His research interests include quantum field theory, black holes, and early universe cosmology. He has made major contributions to the theory of symmetry breaking, the development of inflationary universe scenarios, and the quantization of topological defects and other solitons. His current research is focused on quantum field theory dualities and their relation to string theory.