Kylar Greene, a graduate student in the University of New Mexico’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, is among 60 students from across the nation selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program’s 2023 Solicitation 1 cycle. He will be hosted by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL). His research will be focusing on theoretical and computational research in high energy physics.

This award allows graduate students to perform part of their doctoral thesis research at Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories and prepares them to enter jobs of critical importance to the DOE mission and secures our national position at the forefront of discovery and innovation. This award was given to a select group of 60 individuals this year from 48 universities across the nation. The awarded research project tackles the Hubble tension, a discrepancy in measurements of the Universe's expansion rate, by exploring physics beyond the standard models of cosmology and particle physics.

To qualify for the DOE SCGSR grant, the applicant must be a Ph.D. candidate meaning the student is on the last step in a Ph.D. program before writing and defending a thesis. Applicants must also submit a detailed research plan to the DOE outlining the proposed research. Greene passed his candidacy exam in January of 2021 and started his 5th year as a UNM graduate student this fall. He obtained his Bachelor’s in astrophysics and his master’s in physics from UNM.

As part of this award, Greene will spend 9 months at Fermilab, located in Batavia, Ill., working with leading experts in theoretical particle physics and cosmology, pushing the frontier of knowledge about the mysteries of the Universe.

“I'm honored to receive the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Award from the Department of Energy (DoE). Winning this award signifies more than just an accolade to me; it's an invitation into an expansive realm of new knowledge. It offers me the unique opportunity to dive into particle physics, working alongside leading experts. It's akin to diving into an entirely new domain which is very exciting!” expressed Greene.

Greene’s research focuses on decoding the mysterious ‘dark sector’ of the Universe. Greene explains that most of our Universe is made up of matter that’s elusive and unlike anything we’re familiar with. Termed ‘dark matter’, this unseen matter does not interact with light, rendering it invisible to telescopes. However, its gravitational influence is detectable. He has studied this material in cosmological context, analyzing early Universe observations and galaxy formations to draft a comprehensive model. Greene’s time at FermiLab will allow him to pivot, aiming to forge a particle physics extension that mirrors the phenomena that he observes in the Universe.

“Collaborating with experts at FermiLab, especially Gordan Krnjaic, could be a monumental step in my career. While I've been fortunate to have an intellectually fulfilling experience at UNM under the mentorship of Dr. Francis-Yan Cyr-Racine and our vibrant research group, FermiLab offers a fresh perspective. Gaining insight from multiple angles can only enrich one's understanding, and I consider this chance invaluable,” said Greene. 

Greene recently published two papers in the Journal of Cosmology and Astrophysics, titled, “Hubble distancing: Focusing on distance measurements in cosmology” and “Thomson scattering: One rate to rule them all.” 

Greene joins a list of UNM graduate students to receive this award, previously UNM graduate student Alexandre Fredrick Mills received this honor in 2020.