Kate Scholberg


Bass Fellow and Director of Undergraduate Studies

273 Physics Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
(919) 660-2962


Prof. Scholberg's broad research interests include experimental
elementary particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. Her main
specific interests are in neutrino physics: she studies neutrino
oscillations with the Super-Kamiokande experiment, a giant underground
water Cherenkov detector located in a mine in the Japanese Alps.
Super-K was constructed to search for proton decay and to study
neutrinos from the sun, from cosmic ray collisions in the atmosphere,
and from supernovae. Prof. Scholberg's primary involvement is with the
atmospheric neutrino data analysis, which in 1998 yielded the first
convincing evidence for neutrino oscillation (implying the existence
of non-zero neutrino mass).

One of the most important questions that we may be able to answer with
neutrino oscillation experiments over the next couple of decades is
the question of CP (charge conjugation-parity) violation in
neutrinos. It's now well known that processes involving quarks violate
CP symmetry; it's suspected that the same is true for leptons (such as
neutrinos), but leptonic CP violation is as yet unobserved. We hope
that understanding of CP violation, along with knowledge of the other
neutrino parameters, may lead to insight into the question of the
observed matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe. The long-term
program of Super-K and the associated long baseline neutrino beam
experiment aims to answer these questions.

The next steps in neutrino oscillation research involve
artifical beams of neutrinos sent hundreds of kilometers from accelerator laboratories to underground detectors.
The T2K ("Tokai to Kamioka") high-intensity
beam experiment sends neutrinos 300 km from an accelerator at the J-PARC facility in Japan to Super-K, and is currently exploring unknown oscillation parameters. LBNE (the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment) is a planned next-generation experiment designed to beam neutrinos from Fermilab to a large detector at a new underground facility in the United States.

Prof. Scholberg also coordinates SNEWS, the SuperNova Early Warning
System, an inter-experiment collaboration of detectors with Galactic
supernova sensitivity. Neutrinos from a core collapse will precede the
photon signal by hours; therefore coincident observation of a burst in
several neutrino detectors will be a robust early warning of a visible
supernova. The goals of SNEWS are to provide the astronomical
community with a prompt alert of a Galactic core collapse, as well as
to optimize global sensitivity to supernova neutrino physics.

PhD - Caltech
Ph.D. - California Institute of Technology
M.S. - California Institute of Technology
BSc - McGill University
B.S. - California Institute of Technology
2013 Fellow of American Physical Society, American Physical Society