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Faculty Spotlight

Pearl SandickDark Matter: A Universal Mystery

Pearl Sandick, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is attempting to unravel the mystery of the dark matter in the Universe.

“I work on theoretical particle physics – mainly models of new physics that can help explain dark matter, which is known to exist from its gravitational interactions but is otherwise a complete mystery,” says Sandick.

Nearly 85% of the matter in the Universe is so-called dark matter, with the rest being normal matter, the stuff that makes up planets and stars.

“Theorists make suggestions and work out the implications of possible explanations for dark matter, and, hopefully, experiments will guide us to an understanding of what the true theory looks like,” says Sandick.  dark matter dist

Sandick’s research is supported by the National Science Foundation at a rate of $134,000 over three years.

She maintains research collaborations with scientists around the world, including theorists working at CERN.  “Right now I’m working primarily with Jason Kumar at the University of Hawaii, and Kathrine Freese at the University of Michigan, along with postdocs and grad students at several other institutions,” says Sandick.

Sandick also is passionate about science education and the retention of students and faculty in physics and science disciplines and careers.

She recently won the Early Career Teaching Award at the U. The award is given to outstanding young faculty members who have distinguished themselves through the development of new and innovative teaching methods, effectiveness in the curriculum and classroom, as well as commitment to enhancing student learning.

In January, five University of Utah physics majors flew to Colorado to attend the American Physical Society (APS) Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP).

Sandick is now the Chair of the National Organizing Committee for the CUWiPs, which draw over 1,500 undergraduate attendees to several sites around the U.S. and Canada each year.

The CUWiPs offer workshops, lab tours, panel discussions, and resources to help women continue in physics careers.

“My hope is that they will be inspired by their experiences at the CUWiPs to continue pursuing scientific careers, and that the conferences help to provide them with tools that will increase their success in those pursuits,” says Sandick.

Sandick will present a “Curie Club” talk on March 1 in the Thatcher Chemistry Building on campus. The event is free and open to the public. For details, call Tascha Knowlton, 585-7284.


Last Updated: 3/7/17