Department of Physics & Astronomy

Katrin Becker

Professor

Katrin Becker

Biography

Our understanding of the fundamental laws of nature is based on principles which contradict each other. To describe gravitation and physics at large distances we use general relativity. This is a classical theory. The predictions of general relativity have been confirmed in all observations and experiments to date. General relativity has important astrophysical implications. However, classical physics predicts that matter is unstable. To describe subatomic particles and forces (electromagnetism, the weak and the strong forces) we use a different set of rules based on quantum field theory. In our quest for the fundamental laws of nature we are lead to wonder how to construct a theory of quantum gravity, a theory which reconciles gravity with quantum physics. Prof. K. Becker works on string theory. This is a quantum theory which predicts gravitation instead of contradicting it and it could be the unified theory of nature. It is a fascinating and unique framework. Some of the simplest string theories give rise to the known forces and patterns of elementary particles (chiral gauge couplings and a replication as families or generations). Prof. K. Becker has co-authored some widely cited papers on supersymmetric cylces and flux compactifications in string theory. Currently she works in perturbative string theory. She is a co-author (together with M. Becker and J. H. Schwarz) of a textbook on string theory published by Cambridge University Press.

Awards and Recognition

  • Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Research (Texas A&M University, 2017)
  • Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (IAS, 2011)
  • Radcliffe Fellowship (Harvard University, 2005)
  • Alfred Sloan Research Fellowship (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 2003)