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Physics professor awarded a prestigious grant to host a meeting in Venice

The American Physical Society recently announced that Dr. Philip Cole, physics chair and professor in the Philip ColeCollege of Arts and Sciences at Lamar University, has been awarded one of the Convening Awards ($25,000) funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to support small scientific meetings. As a result, Cole will help organize the international workshop on “Light Dark Matter @ Accelerators” Nov. 20-22, 2019, in Venice, Italy. 

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Convening Award on Opportunities in Fundamental Physics is a prestigious award given to select scientists and educators in the United States. Cole has been named  the principal investigator.

“The focus of this grant is on advancing new ideas in physics on how to detect dark matter,” said Cole. “Given that we know next to nothing on the structure and composition of dark matter and energy, it this was a difficult grant proposal to write so I’m thrilled we were awarded this very prestigious grant.”

Cole, along with two other investigators - Dr. Elton Smith of Jefferson Lab and Prof. Michael Wood from Canisius College - represent the American side of the ten-member Local Organizing Committee and are all topic conveners for this workshop. Drs. Andrea Celentano and Marco Battaglieri, both from Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Genoa, Italy, are the lead workshop organizers of “Light Dark Matter Accelerators 2019” (LDMA2019).

Moore FoundationThe grant awarded to Lamar University is one of several Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grants designed to stimulate ideas on innovative ways in which emerging technologies can be used to address pressing problems in fundamental physics beyond the standard model by bringing people together to collaborate on ideas and explore new cost-effective approaches.

“This award demonstrates the global impact of Lamar University and its leadership in dark matter and energy, as well as its influence in the dissemination of research knowledge,” said Lynn Maurer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Lamar University continues to make further inroads into research success.” 

Cole says dark matter is an enigma because mass of visible matter (electrons and nuclei) accounts for less than 5% of the universe but the remaining 95% is called dark matter and dark energy. It cannot be seen in the electromagnetic spectrum nor has dark matter been directly detected in scattering experiments.

APS Logo“Even though dark matter cannot be seen, there is clear cosmological evidence for this all-pervasive dark matter and dark energy,” said Cole.  “The non-Keplerian rotational curves of clusters of galaxies, the large-scale structure of mega-groupings of galaxies, and the accelerating expansion of the universe are inexplicable if ordinary gravity from visible matter were the only cause of these cosmological phenomena.  Therefore, there must be something extraordinary at work.  And this extraordinary thing is called dark matter and dark energy.” 

The workshop, a third in a series of workshops, will cover a variety of topics including present and future experimental programs and the latest updates on dark matter detection and ultra-light dark matter searches, among others. After each presentation, there will be discussion sessions to review novel ideas, plans and proposals.

“The workshop will afford the opportunity to share expertise spanning from theoretical motivations to experimental techniques for future programs to pursue in mid-energy and high-intensity accelerating facilities,” said Cole.

Workshop activities will coordinate around:

●      Theoretical grounds and motivations for light dark matter scenarios

●      Present and future experimental programs at accelerators

●      Status of dark forces searches and future perspectives

●      Latest updates on dark matter direct detection and results from experiments at high-energy colliders

●      Constraints and limits from indirect dark matter detection

●      Innovative instrumentation and new experimental techniques

“LDMA2019 will bring together 50 to 60 nuclear and particle physicists – theorists, experimentalists and phenomenologists, who would tend not to coordinate on one scientific enterprise,” said Cole. 

“The diverse background of physicists working on dark matter presents opportunities for collaboration, but also challenges us to work together. It is a new community based in mutual interest in this important scientific question. The aim of this workshop is to provide a venue where all these experiences can be focused on the common goal of understanding dark matter.”

To learn more about the workshop and keep abreast of topics and the agenda, visit “Light Dark Matter 2019.”