Born in Israel and raised in Toronto, Canada, Dr. Jeff Dror comes to the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) at UC Santa Cruz by way of UC Berkeley where he held a postdoc position after completing his PhD at Cornell University.
Dror first discovered a passion for physics during his undergrad in Toronto. As he began his graduate studies, he chose particle physics and enjoyed studying physics in its fundamental form.
“Particle physics is a very unique field in the sense that you get to learn about all kinds of physics. Often, when you specialize you are forced into a narrow field but in my field, I am drawn to the flexibility it offers. One day, I’m learning about stars and galaxies far away, the next day I’m learning about gravitational waves using kilometer-sized lasers, and the next I’m learning about nuclear experiments smashing particles together,” Dror said.
In the field of physics, Dror has generally devoted his time to researching and understanding dark matter which, observed on a galactic scale, does not behave in expected ways.
“We can observe matter (such as stars and galaxies) around us, but when we compare their motion with what we expect due to gravity, we find they do not agree. Instead, it appears there is an additional non-luminous component of the universe called dark matter. We have not actually seen how it interacts with us at all and, presumably, it does in some way. A lot of what I do is trying to find new ways to understand how dark matter interacts with us,” Dror said.
Dror set his sights on UC Santa Cruz as an ideal institution for his research due to its reputation in the field of astrophysics and the opportunity it gives for collaborative research surrounding dark matter.
“UC Santa Cruz specializes in astrophysics. A big appeal is collaboration in the department, whether that’s looking at telescopes, looking at other ways to probe dark matter, or finding new ways to experiment. A lot of important progress to being made here,” Dror said.
With high expectations for his research at UC Santa Cruz, Dror expects to deepen his focus on an elusive particle, the Axion.
“We have very good evidence that typical theories of the universe such as string theory predict particles such as Axions. They are heavily motivated particles and very hard to see. A lot of the focus on trying to look for Axions has been looking for axions as a dark matter candidate,” Dror said.
Learn more about Dr. Dror’s research by visiting his Inspire page.