Department of Physics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College
David Schmitz’s research focuses on exploring the properties of neutrinos, subatomic particles that permeate the universe in vast numbers and may provide important clues to understanding its evolution. The discovery that neutrino particles morph from one type to another as they propagate, or “oscillate,” and hence that they have mass, has been one of the most important and exciting discoveries in particle physics of the last decade. Schmitz’s research interests include studying in detail how neutrinos interact with other matter, searching for a new type of “sterile” neutrino particle, and measuring any differences in the behavior of neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos. Such differences could be part of the explanation for why the universe has come to be dominated by matter and is capable of supporting the surrounding structure.
An important experimental technique in neutrino research involves creating intense beams of neutrinos at such particle accelerator facilities as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and aiming them at detectors at both short (hundreds of meters) and long (hundreds of kilometers) distances. Schmitz collaborates on several such experiments to perform his research.
Schmitz earned his PhD in physics from Columbia University in 2008 and his BS in engineering physics from the University of Kansas in 2001.
Schmitz joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2012.