You are viewing an archived webpage. View a complete list of faculty by cluster on our Current Cluster page.

Cluster focus

String theory addresses one of the deepest problems of contemporary physics, namely the reconciliation of gravity and quantum theory. It regularizes quantum gravity, provides a perturbative expansion in the regime of small gravitational coupling, and unifies the gravitational force with the forces of the standard model of elementary particle physics. String dualities lead to non-perturbative formulations of gauge theory and quantum gravity. As a consequence, black holes have been successfully treated as quantum objects and serious efforts are made toward a theory of quantum cosmology. The formulation of quantum gravity requires a similar change of physical and mathematical concepts as the development of quantum mechanics. This sparked an intense interaction between physicists and mathematicians that lead to substantial contributions to both fields. This cluster focuses talent and resources of the UW-Madison mathematics and physics departments on this great endeavor of theoretical physics. The cluster and affiliated faculty cover the field from mathematical aspects of string theory to string cosmology and string phenomenology.

Cluster accomplishments

  • The Cluster String Theory Visitor Program annually brings 10 to 20 experts in string theory to campus to present their latest research findings and to create collaborative discussions among faculty and students in the departments of physics and mathematics. The interactions initiated during these visits have in many cases led to concrete publications.
  • A weekly String Theory seminar series involves prominent speakers from prestigious institutions across the United States, Europe, and Asia to present research on string theory and foster greater discussion on campus.
  • Several distinguished lecturers who offered systematic presentations on current developments in string theory have led to new graduate student research on such cutting-edge topics as large N dualities and boundary CFT.
  • Building on their expertise, cluster faculty members have designed and taught new advanced courses on topics ranging from  String Theory, to Integrable Structure, to Supersymmetry. These courses created a lively exchange of research ideas among students and faculty, and the lecture notes that grew out of this course have been used in research institutions around the world.
  • The discussions that accompanied courses, seminars and lectures have led to a significant number of collaborative research projects and published articles.
  • As a part of the effort to maintain contact with the community at a broader level, the string theory group hosted a "Great Lake Strings" workshop in 2008 aimed at string theory community working primarily in the mid-west region.  Participants from throughout the region traveled to take part in the workshop. Proceedings of the workshop and other information can be found here.
  • To disseminate the knowledge and excitement of discovery to students and the general public, the cluster has been active in delivering as well as organizing pedagogical and public lectures. In coordination with the Distinguished Lecture Series program on campus, the cluster hosted Brian Greene of Columbia University to deliver a public lecture in Madison and a pre-lecture program at the physics department.

Cluster structure

Cluster and affiliated faculty interact with students and faculty from the departments of mathematics and physics through courses, the weekly seminar series and several collaborative research endeavors. This effort has forged closer links between the two departments and has helped to foster an interdisciplinary approach to string theory research at UW-Madison, which is not commonly found at other universities.

Cluster coordinator, faculty and lead dean

Cluster Coordinator

Cluster Faculty

Lead Dean