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Driven to detect dark matter:  Jared Newton awarded INSGC graduate fellowship



Jared Newton, graduate student at Purdue Physics and Astronomy, works with Dr. Rafael Lang to find creative ways to detect dark matter. Photo provided by Newton.


An interest in experimental dark matter physics brought Jared Newton, graduate student, to Physics and Astronomy. His research involves evaluating different types of sensors that could potentially be placed into a novel dark matter detector named Windchime. This ambitious project hopes to detect dark matter directly through its gravitational forces.  Although this research could take many years to accomplish, it has landed Newton an Indiana Space Grant Consortium (INSGC) Graduate Fellowship.

The INSGC is one of the 52 Consortia that participate in the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. In the state of Indiana, INSGC is a source of NASA-related information, awards and programs. The INSGC awards students at various levels of study with fellowships and internships to help them develop their education and research.

“This fellowship is meant to fund research programs that give genuine research experience to undergraduate students from groups that are underrepresented in STEM,” says Newton. “To apply for it, I had to write proposals about my research work and describe how I planned to get undergraduate students involved with the project. By getting this fellowship, I am very excited to mentor and teach students outside of normal coursework, in an attempt to get people as interested in physics as I am.”

Currently, Newton is spending his summer completing research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is working in the quantum sensing group under the advisement of Claire Marvinney, a collaborator on the Windchime project. He is attending Oak Ridge National Laboratory to learn about how to use quantum squeezed states of light to take measurements below the standard quantum limit. This will allow researchers to evaluate the sensitivity of sensors beyond what would normally be allowed. 

He is advised at Purdue University by Professor Rafael Lang.

“Jared identified not only a disruptively new way to search for dark matter with the Windchime experiment, but he also found a way to bring his research at the Oak Ridge National Lab directly to class here on campus,” says Lang. “I am thrilled about both the scientific and educational aspects of his thesis!”

Newton, a native Hoosier, grew up and graduated from North Side High School in Fort Wayne, IN in 2017.  He then attended Indiana University Bloomington and graduated in May 2021. As an undergraduate, Newton triple-majored in physics, astrophysics, and applied mathematics. His interest in experimental physics then led him to Purdue University. In his free time, he really enjoys spending time outdoors, especially bird watching or playing golf.

“I have always been interested in physics, especially astronomy, since I was a kid,” says Newton. “That was stimulated by a science museum called Science Central that was in my hometown growing up. In undergrad, I primarily focused on computational astronomy but, when I came to Purdue, I decided that I would like to try research that was more experimental in nature. That is why I chose dark matter research; it was experimental but still had a lot of implications in astrophysics.”

Once his education is complete, Newton is not quite sure what his next giant leap might be.  Whether it be scientific research and development or mentoring students, the gateways to his future are open.

“I think that I would strive to work at a national lab or in industry after grad school. I really love teaching, so I will strive to get somewhere that will allow me to do that in the future,” says Newton.



About the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University

Purdue Department of Physics and Astronomy has a rich and long history dating back to 1904. Our faculty and students are exploring nature at all length scales, from the subatomic to the macroscopic and everything in between. With an excellent and diverse community of faculty, postdocs, and students who are pushing new scientific frontiers, we offer a dynamic learning environment, an inclusive research community, and an engaging network of scholars.  

Physics and Astronomy is one of the seven departments within the Purdue University College of Science. World-class research is performed in astrophysics, atomic and molecular optics, accelerator mass spectrometry, biophysics, condensed matter physics, quantum information science, particle and nuclear physics. Our state-of-the-art facilities are in the Physics Building, but our researchers also engage in interdisciplinary work at Discovery Park District at Purdue, particularly the Birck Nanotechnology Center and the Bindley Bioscience Center. We also participate in global research including at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, many national laboratories (such as Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Stanford Linear Accelerator, etc.), the James Webb Space Telescope, and several observatories around the world. 


 Written by Cheryl Pierce, Communications Specialist

Last Updated: Jul 6, 2023 12:01 PM

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