Starting in 2016, Yale Physics Professor Bonnie Fleming will split her time between Yale and Batavia, Illinois, where she will oversee the booster accelerator neutrino program and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). These two neutrino research programs take place at Fermilab, a Department of Energy laboratory that conducts basic research in particle physics. This field could revolutionize the way we look at the universe.
Professor Fleming started her research at Fermilab as a graduate student and will continue her research now as Deputy Chief Research Officer. DUNE investigates properties of neutrinos, elementary particles produced by radioactive decay. The project will look for differences in neutrino and anti-neutrino oscillations—changes in the neutrinos as they move through space. These could provide clues to why we live in a matter-dominated universe, rather than in one with equal amounts of matter and anti-matter—matter’s counterpart of opposite charge.
“When we create matter and anti-matter in the laboratory we can only do so in equal amounts…in the early universe there must have been some imbalance in their creation, leaving us with a matter dominated universe,” Fleming said.
DUNE will use a neutrino beam produced at Fermilab and directed to a Liquid Argon Time Projection Chamber Detector, a particle detector situated in an old underground gold mine. As Deputy Chief Research Officer, Professor Fleming will be responsible for networking with Congress, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the broader community, as well as continuing her research at the lab. The research she oversees could greatly improve our understanding of the universe itself.