Introducing new faculty in the Physical Sciences Division

September 15, 2022

Please welcome the faculty joining the Physical Sciences Division in the '22-23 academic year.

Luca Delacrétaz, Physics

Luca Delacretaz

Luca Delacrétaz is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics. Delacrétaz is a theoretical physicist studying collective and emergent phenomena in condensed matter physics through the lens of quantum field theory. Before joining the UChicago faculty, he was the McCormick Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kadanoff Center for Theoretical Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute. He holds a BSc and MSc in Physics from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and a PhD from Stanford University. He will be at the University of Geneva until he arrives at UChicago in Autumn 2023.

Karri DiPetrillo, Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute

Karri DiPetrillo

Karri DiPetrillo is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute. DiPetrillo works on the ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Natural phenomena such as dark matter, as well as theoretical concerns such as naturalness, strongly suggest Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) particles should be produced in LHC collisions. Her primary research objective is to discover these particles and other unconventional signs of new physics. These compelling signatures break the underlying assumptions of the ATLAS Experiment's design, and may have evaded previous attempts at detection. Her work involves re-thinking analysis techniques at every level and designing new triggers for the current LHC run. She is also building and designing new silicon detectors to improve sensitivity to these BSM particles at future LHC runs and beyond. Prior to coming to UChicago, DiPetrillo worked as Lederman Postdoctoral Fellow at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She received a PhD in physics from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in physics from Brown University. She will join UChicago in January 2023.

Bonnie Fleming, Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute

Bonnie Fleming

Bonnie Fleming is a part-time professor in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute. Fleming is an internationally recognized expert in neutrino physics. In September 2022, she became the chief research officer and deputy director of science and technology for Fermi Accelerator National Laboratory. Fleming is the founding spokesperson of the MicroBooNE collaboration at Fermilab and is a current collaborator on MicroBooNE and SBND.  She is the founding spokesperson of the ArgoNeuT experiment and has been a  collaborator on the ArgoNeuT, LArIAT, and future DUNE experiment. The group has been developing the next generation of accelerator neutrino detectors—Liquid Argon Time Projection Chambers (LArTPC)—for  all of these programs. She was elected a fellow of American Physical Society in 2014 and received the APS Division of Particles and Fields mentoring award in 2018. Previously she was a professor of physics at Yale University since 2004. She was a Lederman Fellow at Fermilab and earned a PhD and master’s in physics from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from Barnard College.

Keisuke Harigaya, Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute

Keisuke Harigaya

Keisuke Harigaya is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute. His research provides theoretical explanations to open problems in the standard model of particle physics and cosmology. The problems he is interested in include anomalously small parameters in the standard model, the identity of dark matter, and the origin of the excess of matter over antimatter. His theories predict signals that can be tested by various experiments such as particle colliders, direct detection of dark matter, and observations of the cosmic microwave background and galaxies. Harigaya was previously at the Institute for Advanced Studies and held postdoctoral positions at UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD from the University of Tokyo.

Grant Ho, Computer Science

Grant Ho

Grant Ho is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. Ho researches computer security, with a particular interest in problems at the intersection of data and security. Currently, Ho’s work focuses on improving the security of organizations and enterprises along two dimensions: developing new algorithms, empirical insights, and systems to thwart attacks; and understanding and alleviating the costs and burdens of deploying security measures. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley, advised by David Wagner and Vern Paxson, and is currently a CSE Postdoctoral Fellow at UC San Diego, where he works with Geoff Voelker and Stefan Savage, and a Visiting Researcher at Corelight Labs. He received a bachelor’s in computer science at Stanford University. He will join UChicago in July 2023.

Elizabeth Jerison, Physics and James Franck Institute

Elizabeth Jerison

Elizabeth Jerison is a Clare Boothe Luce assistant professor in the Department of Physics. Jerison researches biological physics, with a focus on the dynamics of immune responses. She uses a combination of tools from statistical physics and optical microscopy to study how innate immune responses arise from collective cell behavior, using the zebrafish as a primary model biological system. She received a bachelor’s from Yale University and a PhD in physics from Harvard University. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, where she held a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. She will join UChicago in Winter 2023.

Alexander Kale, Computer Science and Data Science

Alexander Kale is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Data Science Institute. Kale creates and evaluates tools for helping people think with data, specializing in data visualization and reasoning with uncertainty. His work addresses gaps in dominant theories and models of what makes visualization effective for inferences and decision making. Kale earned his PhD at the University of Washington, has published and received awards at ACM CHI and IEEE VIS, and leads the Data Cognition Lab, focused on creating data visualization and analysis software that explicitly represents the user’s cognitive processes. Kale earned a bachelor’s in psychology in 2015 and a master’s in information science in 2020 from the University of Washington.

Jamie Law-Smith, Astronomy and Astrophysics

Jamie Law-Smith

Jamie Law-Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Law-Smith researches high energy astrophysics theory and high energy physics theory. Recent problems he has worked on include tidal disruptions of stars by black holes, the formation of gravitational wave sources, the structure of active galactic nucleus disks with embedded stars, the host galaxies of high energy astrophysical phenomena, black holes and de Sitter matrix theory, vacuum decay, and de Sitter space in string theory. Law-Smith attended undergraduate at Harvard University in physics and astrophysics and completed a PhD at UC Santa Cruz in astronomy and astrophysics. He is currently a Fellow at the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center, and will arrive at UChicago in July 2023.

Akhil Mathew, Mathematics

Akhil Mathew

Akhil Mathew is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics. Mathew’s research is primarily in algebraic topology and arithmetic geometry, and their increasing overlaps around the theme of "higher algebra," or the interaction of homotopical and algebraic structures. He received his PhD in 2017 from Harvard University. Before joining UChicago as a faculty member, he was previously a research fellow of the Clay Mathematics Institute (2017-2022). He earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from Harvard University.

Diana Powell, Astronomy and Astrophysics

Diana Powell

Diana Powell is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Powell researches the nature of extrasolar planets, how they form, and how they evolve. Her work spans a variety of topics, including protoplanetary disks, planetary atmospheres, and linking planet formation to planetary characterization. She is particularly interested in using the detailed evolution of small particles to interpret observational data and understand planetary evolution. She received a bachelor’s in physics and astrophysics from Harvard University in 2014 and a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2021. She will continue as a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics until arriving at UChicago in summer 2023.

Aaron Schein, Statistics and Data Science

Aaron Schein

Aaron Schein is assistant professor in the Department of Statistics and the Data Science Institute. Schein’s research develops methodology in Bayesian statistics, causal inference, and machine learning for applied problems in political science, economics, and genetics, among other fields. Prior to joining UChicago, Schein was a postdoctoral fellow in the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. He received his PhD in computer science from UMass Amherst, as well as a master’s in linguistics and a bachelor’s in political science there.

Jack Szostak, Chemistry

Jack Szostak

Jack Szostak is the University Professor in the Department of Chemistry and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A pioneering scholar of genetics, Szostak examines the biochemical origins of life and leads the Origins of Life Initiative. In 2009, he shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Currently he studies ribozymes and the transition from chemistry to biology—specifically, by synthesizing extremely simple artificial cells to find explanations for some of the universal properties of modern cells and their simpler ancestors. He was previously Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, Professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and the Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital. Szostak is the co-author of The Origins of Life (2010), holds numerous patents and has spun off two companies. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He earned his B.Sc. in cell biology from McGill University and his PhD in biochemistry at Cornell University.

Haifeng Xu, Computer Science and Data Science

Haifeng Xu

Haifeng Xu is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Data Science Institute. Xu directs the Strategic IntelliGence for Machine Agents (SIGMA) research lab, which focuses on designing algorithms/systems that can effectively elicit, process, and exploit information, particularly in strategic environments. His research interests include the economics of data/information, including selling, acquiring, and exploiting information; machine learning in multi-agent setups under information asymmetry, incentive conflicts, and deception; and resource allocation in adversarial domains, with applications to security and privacy protection. Xu has published more than 55 publications at leading venues on computational economics, machine learning and theoretical computer science, and his research has been recognized by honors such as the Google Faculty Research Award and multiple best paper awards. He earned a PhD in computer science from University of Southern California in 2018, a master’s in mathematics from University of Waterloo, and a bachelor’s in mathematics from University of Science & Technology of China.

Nikolaos Ignatiadis, Statistics and Data Science

Bio forthcoming. Ignatiadis will join UChicago in 2023.

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