Chris Monahan

Welcome to my home page!

I am an Assistant Professor in the Nuclear Theory Group at William & Mary. You can watch a short (one minute) video on my research here, recorded as part of PhysicsFest 2020! Or, you can watch this Physics Department video.

Broadly speaking, I use supercomputers to study the strong nuclear force that binds together the protons and neutrons at the heart of most of the visible matter in the Universe. I was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER grant and, a little more recently, a Department of Energy Early Career Award, which you can read about here. Thanks NSF and DOE!

The Standard Model is the mathematical theory that describes our understanding of the fundamental building blocks of the Universe. This theory is spectacularly successful-perhaps the most successful scientific theory of all time-but includes only three of the four known forces of nature (it does not include gravity, which is described by general relativity) and does not explain the origin of dark matter or why neutrinos have mass (a Nobel prize-worthy discovery!). Searching for the answers to these questions requires a precise understanding of the Standard Model, so that we can search for experimental clues to new physics and, perhaps, a more unified theory of the four fundamental forces. This, in turn, requires precise theoretical predictions of the properties of quarks and gluons, which interact via the strong force to form the basic building blocks of protons, neutrons and other hadrons.

Currently, the only method we have for studying the properties of the strong force in a systematic way is lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which allows us to numerically solve the equations governing the strong force using super computers. I study heavy quarks in lattice QCD, as part of the search for new physics, and how quarks and gluons come together to form protons and neutrons.

More specifically, there are three strands to my research:

For more details of these topics, see the Research link on the left. Or you can read my articles on the arXiv or INSPIRE. You can also find me on Twitter.