David W. Casper

picture of David W. Casper

Assistant Professor, Physics & Astronomy
School of Physical Sciences

B.S., University of Michigan, 1982, Physics
M.S., University of Michigan, 1985, Physics
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990, Physics

Phone: (949) 824-6946
Fax: (949) 824-2174
Email: dcasper@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
3184 Frederick Reines Hall
University of California, Irvine
Mail Code: 4575
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Experimental high-energy physics, neutrino oscillation, neutrino interactions
Academic Distinctions
Bruno Rossi Prize for Astrophysics, 1989 (with Kamiokande and IMB collaborations)

University of Michigan Distinguished Dissertation Award, 1991
Boston University (1990-1991)
CERN Fellow - Geneva, Switzerland (1991-1993)
LAPP - Annecy, France (1993-1995)
Frascati National Laboratory - Italy (1995-1997)
Assistant Researcher, UCI (1997-2001)
Research Abstract
My research is focused on the most fundamental known constituents and forces of nature. The goal of elementary particle physics is to unify, if possible, the laws of nature into a single consistent, economical description.

One area of recent excitement concerns neutrinos - electrically neutral versions of the more familiar electron, which are able to pass through enormous amounts of matter without interacting. With the Super-Kamiokande experiment in Japan, my colleagues and I have shown that these ghostly particles, long-believed to be perfectly massless, not only carry mass but change their very character ("oscillate") as they whiz through space. In a related experiment called K2K, we have shot a man-made beam of neutrinos through the earth, to a detector 250 km away, further confirming the original discovery. A second-generation experiment, T2K, will measure the mixing between neutrinos, and their masses, more precisely, and hopefully discover a new and predicted mode of oscillation. By understanding what makes neutrinos oscillate, we hope to uncover new evidence for the "theory of everything", and may explain why the universe consists almost entirely of matter, rather than anti-matter.

Super-Kamiokande also allows us to look for the extremely rare (and so far undetected) process of proton decay. Observation of proton decay will not only confirm our suspicion that the three sub-atomic forces are really distant cousins, but also reveal the theory that unites them.

Searches for neutrino oscillation and proton decay both require a detailed understanding of how neutrinos interact with matter. I have written a publicly available software library to model these interactions, but the lack of good data makes it about equal parts science and guesswork. To remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs, and improve the sensitivity of future neutrino oscillation and proton-decay experiments, I have helped put together a proposal for a new experiment at Fermilab, called MINERvA.
Graduate Assistanceships in Areas of National Need (GAANN), Physics and Astronomy PI
Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator (2004-07)
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