U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Office of Scientific and Technical Information

DOE Physicists at Work - Brenna Flaugher

DOE Physicists at Work Archive

DOE Office of Science celebrates 2005 World Year of Physics


DOE Physicists at Work


Profiles of representative DOE-sponsored physicists
doing research at universities and national laboratories


Compiled by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Brenna Flaugher

Probing the limits of her world - that's what drives Brenna Flaugher, scientist with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.


Patricia Berge

Not only has Dr. Flaugher searched for the smallest constituents of matter, she has attempted to measure the properties of the largest structures of the universe.  She has smashed protons together inside an accelerator to see what holds quarks - the tiny building blocks of matter - together.  She has also observed the vast galaxies in an effort to unveil the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy.  And she currently manages a project to build the largest CCD camera in the world (CCD, or charge-coupled device, cameras are similar to, but much more sensitive than, typical digital cameras).


"My interest in physics is driven by a desire to understand the world around us," says Dr. Flaugher.  "My goal is to gain a better understanding of how our universe evolved from the time of the Big Bang, when everything was compressed into a dense homogeneous mixture of very hot gas and particles, to the universe we see today which is not homogenous at all; the stars and galaxies and galaxy clusters are all separated by lots and lots of empty space."


As a graduate student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Dr. Flaugher chose the field of experimental High Energy Physics.  "This was probing the limits of our understanding by creating and studying the smallest fundamental constituents of nature," says Dr. Flaugher.


In her early career, Dr. Flaugher worked on a high energy physics experiment in which protons and anti-protons were smashed together at the highest energy possible at the time inside an accelerator.  The idea was to study the forces that hold the quarks inside the protons together.  "One of the most exciting projects I worked on was to determine if the quarks and anti-quarks inside the protons and anti-protons are made of smaller particles," says Dr. Flaugher.  "Although all the current data indicates that quarks are the smallest constituents of matter, there is a possibility that they are made of particles so small we have not been able to see them."  Dr. Flaugher's group found that if the smaller particles exist, their size is less than 10-16 cm .


Recently, she has moved into the fields of particle astrophysics and cosmology, where, by observing galaxies and galaxy clusters she hopes to begin to understand the dominant constituents of the universe, dark energy and dark matter.  These are thought to comprise about 95 percent of the total energy density of the universe, yet they are little understood.


"I am working on a new project that will measure the properties of the largest structures in the universe," says Dr. Flaugher.  That project is part of a new effort which studies the connections between particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. "We know that the familiar components of the universe: neutrinos, quarks, hydrogen, helium, and stars all combine to make up only about five percent of the total energy density of the universe," says Dr. Flaugher.  "The rest is in what we call dark matter (about 25 percent) and dark energy (about 70 percent).


Dark energy is gravitationally repulsive, and is thought to be responsible for the observation that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.  "We study the effects of dark energy and dark matter by measuring the expansion rate of the universe and the rate at which stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters are formed," says Dr. Flaugher.


Dr. Flaugher is currently working on a project called the Dark Energy Survey, which will entail measuring 300 million galaxies and 30,000 galaxy clusters.  "To make these measurements we will build the largest CCD camera in world," says Dr. Flaugher, who is project manager for building the camera, which will have 62 CCDs and approximately 500 megapixels.


"For comparison, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey camera has about 120 megapixels," says Dr. Flaugher.  "With this camera we will take images of about 15 percent of the sky over a period of 5 years.  The images we collect will allow us to take the next step towards understanding the nature of dark matter and dark energy."


Dr. Flaugher was born in Nashville, Tennessee and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey.  She attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, graduating with a BS in Physics.


Her hobbies include biking (road and mountain), hiking, and occasional canoe trips to the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota".


Dr. Flaugher’s articles accessed via OSTI:


Information Bridge


QCD issues at the Tevatron


Measurement of R10 (σ(W+≥1 Jet)/σ(W)) at CDF


High ET jet cross sections at CDF


Prospects for the upgraded Tevatron


Energy Citations Database


Measurement of the CP -Violation Parameter sin(2β) in à J/ψ K0S Decays


Search for the Decays B0s, B0d à  and Pati-Salam Leptoquarks


Measurement of the Lepton Charge Asymmetry in W -Boson Decays Produced in  Collisions


Search for Higgs Bosons Produced in Association with a Vector Boson in Collisions at =1.8 TeV


Search for the rare decay à in collisions at 1.8 TeV


Measurement of the and  meson lifetimes using semileptonic decays


Search for Second Generation Leptoquarks in the Dimuon Plus Dijet Channel of Collisions at  1.8 TeV


Observation of à ψ(2S) and  à ψ(2S) (892)0 decays and measurements of B-meson branching fractions into J/ψ and ψ (2S) final states


Observation of the  Meson in  Collisions at  = 1.8 TeV


Search for long-lived parents of bosons in collisions at =1.8 TeV


Search for the rare decay à + in proton-antiproton collisions at =1.8 TeV


Searches for New Physics in Diphoton Events in  Collisions at =1.8 TeV


Measurement of the σ(W+ ≥1 Jet)/σ(W) Cross Section Ratio from Collisions at =1.8 TeV


Search for Chargino-Neutralino Associated Production at the Fermilab Tevatron Collider


Observation of Hadronic W Decays in Events with the Collider Detector at Fermilab


Measurement of B hadron lifetimes using J/ψ final states at CDF


Search for the decays à and à  in collisions at = 1.8 TeV


Measurement of the Differential Cross Section for Events with Large Total Transverse Energy in  Collisions at  = 1.8 TeV


Measurement of the  Oscillation Frequency Using π - B Meson Charge-Flavor Correlations in  Collisions at  = 1.8 TeV


Measurement of the Top Quark Mass


 E-print Network


Comparison of Three-jet Events in Proton-Antiproton Collisions at Center-of-mass Energy 1.8 TeV to Predictions from a Next-to-leading Order QCD Calculation


Snowmass 2001: Jet Energy Flow Project


Summary: Working Group on QCD and Strong Interactions


Inclusive Jet and Dijet Production at the Tevatron


Measurement of the Production Cross Section in Collisions at = 1.96 TeV using Dilepton Events


Search for Doubly-Charged Higgs Bosons Decaying to Dileptons in Collisions at =1.96 TeV


Inclusive Search for Anomalous Production of High-pT Like-Sign Lepton Pairs in Proton-Antiproton Collisions at =1.8 TeV


First Measurements of Inclusive W and Z Cross Sections from Run II of the Tevatron Collider

Measurement of the  Production Cross Section in  Collisions at  = 1.96 TeV Using Kinematic Fitting of b-tagged Lepton+Jet Events


Measurement of  and  Production in  Collisions at = 1.96 TeV


Measurement of the  Production Cross Section in  Collisions at =1.96 TeV using Lepton + Jets Events with Secondary Vertex b-tagging


Search for Anomalous Production of Diphoton Events with Missing Transverse Energy at CDF and Limits on Gauge-Mediated Supersymmetry-Breaking Models


Search for electroweak single top quark production in  collisions at =1.96 TeV


Search for Scalar Leptoquark Pairs Decaying to  in  Collisions at  = 1.96 TeV


Measurement of the Forward-Backward Charge Asymmetry of Electron-Positron Pairs in Proton anti-Proton Collisions at s(1/2)=1.96-TeV


Measurement of the W Boson Polarization in Top Decay at CDF at s(1/2) = 1.8 TeV


Measurements of Bottom Anti-Bottom Azimuthal Production Correlations in Proton-Antiproton Collisions at s(1/2)=1.8 TeV


Search for Anomalous Kinematics in  Dilepton Events at CDF II


Measurement of the Cross Section for Prompt Diphoton Production in  Collisions at  = 1.96 TeV


Please search the E-print Network for additional papers by this researcher.








Last updated on Thursday 01 August 2013