Melanie Becker is a professor of physics at Texas A&M University working in string theory. Most recently, she has been working on developing string theory models that will compare with results from both the standard model of elementary particle physics and cosmology.
During her stay at the Radcliffe Institute, Becker will work on such models in collaboration with several string theorists from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The final goal is to develop a model from string theory that reproduces the experimental data measured in particle accelerators and in cosmological data. The concrete models studied are so-called “compactifications of string theory on manifolds with torsion.” Such models are extremely interesting, as well as challenging, not only from the physics point of view but also from the mathematical point of view.
Becker completed her graduate work at the international particle accelerator laboratory CERN in Switzerland and received her PhD from the University of Bonn, Germany, in 1994. She then became a postdoctoral fellow in physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara until 1997, when she accepted a senior research fellow position at the California Institute of Technology. In 2000, she became an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. In September 2005, she will join the Department of Physics at Texas A&M University as a professor of physics. Her major awards include an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (2001) and a Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) fellowship (2004) for the development of string theory among young undergraduate female students.