Critical Mass: How the Higgs Boson Discovery Swept the World

Why has the Higgs boson caused such a stir around the world?
Why is the discovery such an important milestone in physics?
Does it really explain how we exist?
What’s next?

Last summer, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, announced the discovery of a new particle that could explain why elementary particles have mass. On February 7, 2013, join a panel of experts from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermilab to learn why this discovery marks the beginning of a new era in particle physics research.


Young-Kee Kim

Deputy Director, Fermilab
Professor of Physics, UChicago

Young-Kee Kim is an experimental particle physicist whose research focuses on understanding the origin of mass for fundamental particles. She also works as Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago and the Enrico Fermi Institute. Since July 2006, Kim has served as Deputy Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.  In this role, she leads and manages development and implementation of the particle physics strategic plan at Fermilab. Prior to her role as Deputy Director of Fermilab, Kim served as co-spokesperson for the CDF experiment at Fermilab's Tevatron, a premier particle physics experiment with more than 600 physicists from around the world.

Kim earned her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester in 1990, and her B.S. and M.S. in physics from Korea University, in 1984 and 1986, respectively. She completed her postdoctoral research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She was professor of physics at University of California, Berkeley, when she moved to the University of Chicago in 2003.

In 2005, Kim received the Ho-Am Prize, Korea's award given to "those who have made outstanding contributions to the development of science and culture, and enhancement of the welfare of mankind," and the Guk-Min Po-Sang from the South Korean government in 2008 for her contributions to science and community. She received a fellowship from the Alfred Sloan Foundation and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. She is a recipient of the Rochester Distinguished Scholar Medal and the Professional Opportunities award for Women in Research and Education from National Science Foundation.


Marcela Carena

Senior Theoretical Physicist, Fermilab
Professor in Physics, UChicago

Marcela Carena is a theoretical particle physicist working at the frontiers of fundamental physics. Her research explores the possible connections between the Higgs boson, supersymmetry, extra dimensions of space, dark matter, and the unification of forces and matter. She has developed a leading theory to explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry observed in the universe, which is being tested at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Carena has worked closely with experimental physicists at CERN and at Fermilab, creating and implementing strategies for discovery and testing new ideas about particle physics.

Carena is a senior scientist at Fermilab and a professor in the Physics Department, the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. She received her Diploma in Physics from the Instituto Balseiro of Bariloche, Argentina in 1985, and her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Hamburg in 1989. She was a John Stuart Bell Fellow at CERN from 1993-95 and was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship in 1996. She was a staff member at CERN in 1999-2000 and she has been a staff scientist at Fermilab since 1997. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and in 2010 she received a Humboldt Research Award from the government of Germany.

Carena has served as a General Councillor and Executive Board member of the American Physical Society, as well as on the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs, the APS Nominating Committee, and the APS Division of Particles and Fields Executive Committee. She served on the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) and the Particle Astrophysics Scientific Assessment Group (PASAG) of the U.S. DOE/NSF High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP), as well as on a number of international advisory panels in Europe and Latin America.

Tom LeCompte

Physicist, High Energy Physics Division, Argonne

Tom LeCompte is a high energy physicist at Argonne National Laboratory and the former physics coordinator for the ATLAS experiment, a 3,000-person collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. This experiment studies the collisions of protons at the highest energy yet achieved. It also will improve our understanding of matter, energy, space and time and hopes to shed life on questions like: Why do particles have mass? What is the dark matter that makes up much of the universe? Are there extra dimensions beyond the three space and one time dimension we perceive?  Previously, he was active on the CDF experiment at Fermilab and the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Born in Chicago, LeCompte received his PhD in Physics in 1992 and MS in Physics and Astronomy in 1989 at Northwestern University and his SB in 1995 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He did postdoctoral studies from 1992 to 1995 at the University of Illinois, after which he joined Argonne National Laboratory.

He is a Member of the American Physical Society.

Patricia McBride

Scientist and Head of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Center, Fermilab

Patricia McBride is the head of the CMS Center at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and a member of the CMS Collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Her research interests are in the areas of experimental particle physics and scientific computing. 

Previously McBride was the deputy head of the Fermilab Computing Division where she managed scientific computing for the laboratory. She also served as the deputy computing coordinator for the CMS experiment at CERN. She was elected Chair of the Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) of the American Physical Society (APS) and is a member of the APS Physics Policy Committee. McBride was the Chair of the Commission on Particles and Fields (C11) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and a Vice-President of the IUPAP Executive Council.  In her role as C11 chair she served as an ex-officio member of the International Committee on Future Accelerators (ICFA).   

McBride is currently the Chair of the US Liaison Commission to IUPAP. She is a member of the preparatory group for the Update to the European Strategy for Particle Physics. She is also a member of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Advisory Committee and a member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP). She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a AAAS Fellow. She received her PhD in Physics from Yale University and was a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard University. She was a member of the scientific staff at the SSC Laboratory in Texas before joining the scientific staff at Fermilab. In 1995, McBride was awarded an NSF Visiting Professorship for Women to teach at Princeton University.

Mark Oreglia

Professor in Physics, UChicago

Mark Oreglia is a Professor in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. He has been involved in particle physics experiments since 1974, including studies of the charm quark at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, of neutrinos at Fermilab, searches for the Higgs Boson at the Large Electron Positron accelerator, and searches for new particles and measurements of quark production at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. He is currently Principal Investigator of UChicago's large High Energy Physics group.

Oreglia teaches in the College, where he is a recipient of the Quantrell Prize for excellence in teaching. He is also active in community outreach and director of the Enrico Fermi Summer Interns program that brings students from the Chicago Public School system to campus to learn about science, electronics, and computers. He has also been involved in planning for the next generation of particle accelerators and is the co-chair of the American Linear Collider Physics Group.

Oreglia has been a fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was a National Science Foundation Outstanding Junior Investigator, and is a member of the American Physical Society.