A Lab of One’s Own: A Place to Measure the Broken Symmetries of This Particular Elegant Universe

Melissa Franklin

Melissa Franklin

This year’s Roslyn Silver ’27 Science Lecture will be presented by Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University. An experimental particle physicist who studies hadron collisions produced by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, she works in a collaboration of over 600 international physicists who discovered the top quark, the most massive of known elementary particles. Her work is focused on looking for new particles, which can only be produced by colliding protons at very high energies. She will also be collaborating with 2000 other physicists on experiments using data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, when the LHC is turned on this fall. Professor Franklin will discuss her research and its potential to answer questions about how these elementary constituents of matter come together to create more complex forces, including those forces that may have created the universe. She will also discuss the challenges in navigating the university and the international laboratory in order to make a contribution to this effort, and the importance of having “a lab of one’s own” to allow for independent thinking.

Professor Franklin received her B.Sc. from the University of Toronto and her Doctorate from Stanford University. She worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and as a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard, before joining the Harvard faculty in 1989 and becoming the first woman to gain tenure in the department of physics in 1992.