Physics professor Jodi Cooley wins 2012 NSF career award

dark matter

Physics professor Jodi Cooley wins 2012 NSF career award

Jodi Cooley, SMU physics professor and NSF CAREER Award winnerJodi Cooley of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences has earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award of more than $1 million for her research toward detecting the particles that are believed to make up dark matter.

NSF Early Career Development Awards are given to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.

Cooley, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics, is an experimental particle physicist working with the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS), a collaboration of 14 institutions from the United States and Canada. Cooley is SMU’s principal investigator for the group.

Scientists theorize that more than 80 percent of all matter in the universe is dark matter, which consists of material that cannot be seen or detected by conventional means. Cooley’s research in the SuperCDMS project is conducted in the Soudan Iron Mine in Soudan, Minnesota, where researchers are shielded from cosmic-ray radiation as they use detector technology to “listen” for the passage of dark matter through the earth. Cooley’s research uses sophisticated equipment to optimize the chances of detecting “weakly interacting massive particles,” also known as WIMPS, which are the particles hypothesized to make up dark matter.

“Her CAREER Award will enable Professor Cooley to extend this research with additional measurements at higher levels of sensitivity and simulations, placing SMU in a leadership role in this cutting-edge field of physics,” said James Quick, associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.

Cooley joined SMU in 2009. She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Physics Department at Stanford University from 2004-09 and a postdoctoral associate in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at MIT from 2003-04. She received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003, a Master of Arts in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000, and a Bachelor of Science in applied math and physics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1997.

The NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won more than 180 Nobel Prizes.

Cooley is SMU’s second NSF CAREER award winner this year. Joe Camp, J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, received a Faculty Early Career Development Award for his research into improved wireless network design incorporating low frequencies.

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March 7, 2012|For the Record, News|

Research Spotlight: SMU physicist follows dark matter into a Minnesota mine

jodi-cooley-wfaa-news-350.jpgThe search for mysterious dark matter has taken SMU physicist Jodi Cooley to the bottom of an abandoned mine.

Cooley, assistant professor of experimental particle physics in SMU’s Dedman College, is a member of the collaboration on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS II) experiment. The project is housed deep in the Soudan Underground Laboratory, part of an abandoned mine in a national park in Minnesota.

Physicists have been searching for dark matter – the substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe – for decades. Cooley was part of a scientific group of experimental particle physicists who reported in the journal Science that they couldn’t rule out that they may have seen a glimpse of dark matter.

WFAA Channel 8 News reporter Jonathan Betz followed Cooley to the Soudan lab for a glimpse into the search for dark matter. Watch Betz’ report courtesy of SMU News. video

> Read more about Cooley’s work from the SMU Research blog

December 14, 2010|News, Research, Tune In|

Research Spotlight: Glimpse of light in search for dark matter?

Accelerator photoA group of experimental particle physicists have reported in the latest issue of the journal Science that they cannot rule out that they may have seen a glimpse of dark matter.

Physicists have been searching for dark matter – the substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe – for decades. Jodi Cooley, an assistant professor of experimental particle physics in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, is a member of the collaboration on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS II) experiment.

The experiment is located deep in the Soudan Underground Laboratory in an abandoned mine in a national park in Minnesota.

BBC News reported on the published results in “Study hints at dark matter action,” written by BBC science reporter Doreen Walton and published to the BBC News website Feb. 11, 2010.

Cooley, quoted in the BBC article, said, “Either we had a statistical fluctuation in our background or it could be that these two events are evidence of dark matter but there weren’t enough of them to be sure.”

The scientific findings were published in the journal Science on Feb. 11, “Dark Matter Search Results from the CDMS II Experiment.”

Cooley and her colleagues earlier announced the groundbreaking CDMS findings at dual press conferences on Dec. 17. The team, known as the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, hosted simultaneous talks by Cooley at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory in California and by Lauren Hsu of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

Read more from the SMU Research blog

February 16, 2010|Research|
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