Theoretical High Energy Physics and Cosmology


The Standard Model of elementary particle physics has been extremely successful at describing the interactions of elementary particles up to the energy scales that have so far been reached at accelerators. Similarly, the much younger "Concordance Model" of cosmology appears to be in very good agreement with observations. Both models leave open important questions, though. Both will also be challenged by new experiments and observations that  have recently started. The research of the VUB theory group addresses a  number of fundamental theoretical questions and tries to make contact with  experiments and observations wherever possible.

Theoretical High Energy Physics and Cosmology at the VUB

The group currently consists of 2 faculty members, 9 postdocs, 5 PhD students and a few Master's students. It is very international (e.g. all postdocs and 2 PhD  students were recruited abroad) and works very closely with groups at ULB  (Brussels) and KUL (Leuven), with which it has two joint seminars every week.

It is strongly involved in the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and  Chemistry, to which all group members belong.

The traditional focus of the group has been on string theory (a proposed  theoretical framework for unifying all fundamental interactions including  gravity) and supersymmetric field theory (supersymmetry is an important  candidate for physics beyond the Standard Model as well as an important  ingredient in string theory). A more recent emphasis has been on applying  string theory to cosmology, in particular to the study of the very early universe.  Master's students are welcome to work on a broad variety of topics in this field.

Jointly with our experimental colleagues, we have recently founded a new  group working on particle phenomenology, in close collaboration with groups at UCL (Louvain-La-Neuve) and ULB. Its aim is to start with theoretical models of  supersymmetry and put in place a chain of links all the way to the data that are  now being collected at the LHC collider at CERN. This research is open to Master's students as well.

Themes for master thesis research work

  • Topics in string theory and theoretical cosmology
  • Models of supersymmetry breaking and the LHC

Additional information about the subject: If you are interested in participating in one of these projects in the context of  your Master's thesis, please contact Prof. Ben Craps and/or Prof. Alexander Sevrin.