Katrin Becker is a physicist working in string theory, theoretical high energy physics, and cosmology. During the twentieth century, two theories have been developed upon which our understanding of the laws of nature is based: general relativity, which governs our understanding of large distance physics, and quantum mechanics, which governs our understanding of short distance physics. However, the laws of the two theories are different, and, in part, these theories seem to contradict each other. String theory aims to solve this incompatibility and, as a result, to describe nature at its most fundamental level.
At Radcliffe, Becker will work on flux backgrounds. These are certain background geometries predicted by string theory that play a crucial role in using it to predict values for observed quantities. She will also work on developing models of inflation in cosmology, starting with string theory. With her collaborators, Becker recently found a way of embedding the model of assisted inflation in string theory. This model should lead to predictions that could be confirmed by experiments, and Becker will work on describing these experimental signatures.
After receiving her PhD from Bonn University, Becker became a postdoctoral research associate at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara and a senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. She then taught at the University of Utah until she became a professor of physics at Texas A&M University in 2005. She was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship in 2003. She is currently coauthoring a textbook on string theory with Melanie Becker and John H. Schwarz, one of the founders of string theory, to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2005.