I'm a Ph.D. student at the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science doing research in experimental astroparticle physics. I work in Lindley Winslow's group.
I work on the experiments ABRACADABRA and DM Radio, which search for low-mass axion dark matter. Before coming to MIT, I studied physics and math at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and worked on projects related to axion and WIMP dark matter, neutrinoless double-beta decay, Higgs physics, CP violation in leptons, and radio astronomy.
When I'm not doing physics, I like seeing new places, standing on top of mountains, and dancing, preferably all three at once.
► Link to CV ◄
There is lots of evidence that the visible matter around us is only a small fraction of the matter in the universe. For example, we can observe the motion of galaxies inside galaxy clusters, and we can see that there has to be extra mass that is causing them to move differently than we would otherwise expect. So far, there have been no confirmed reports of the detection of a particle that could be this 'dark' matter. There are many theories as to what dark matter could be, and one of the most well-motivated ones is the axion.
The axion was proposed as part of the solution to another longstanding problem in physics, the strong CP problem. In its essence, this is the problem that two unrelated parts of physics cancel each other out to one part in 1010, which we call a fine-tuning problem. The existence of axions would solve this, and as a bonus they do a great job of explaining the many anomalies that point to dark matter. Axions are hard to detect because they interact extremely feebly with the visible matter that makes up our detectors.
ABRACADABRA stands for A Broadband/Resonant Approach to Cosmic Axion Detection with an Amplifying B-field Ring Apparatus. As the name suggests, we hope to detect dark matter axions by looking for their interactions with a strong toroidal magnet. I was part of the team that built and operated the first generation of the experiment, ABRACADABRA-10cm, which a small, prototype experiment located at MIT. For more information about the experiment and published results, check out its website.
DM Radio Pathfinder is the sister prototype experiment to ABRACADABRA-10cm. For the larger, next-generation experiments, the two collaborations have joined forces to pool our expertise. DM Radio 50L is fully funded and is currently in the design stage. The following generation, DM Radio m3, has been funded for a design study under the DOE Office of High Energy Physics Dark Matter New Initiatives program. For more information about these experiments, check out their website.
Bullet cluster, NASA
Me, David Johnson
Celestial southern hemisphere of the CMB, Planck
Axion coupling to two photons, me
ABRACADABRA-10cm magnet in its superconducting shield, Jon Ouellet
DM Radio logo, DM Radio collaboration