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“The laws of nature are the same everywhere and something that can unite people”

Sara Strandberg is Professor in Particle Physics at Stockholm University and researcher at CERN. She was one of the scientists who discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012 and she thinks Stockholm is the place to be if you are interested in particle physics, astro particle physics or cosmology.

What do you get out of being both a teacher and a researcher?

“I really enjoy teaching here. It is inspiring to meet a new generation of physicists. And teaching is also the best way to learn more about a subject. When teaching courses at master's level I can also very naturally bring my research into the classroom and talk about the knowledge frontier in my field.”

Porträttbild på Sara Strandberg.
Sara Strandberg Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad

Tell us more about your research field!

“My research is in particle physics, seeking to understand how the world works on the smallest scales. I use data from the ATLAS experiment at CERN to study the elementary particles and the forces with which they interact with one another.

In particular I study the heaviest elementary particles that we know of – the top quark and the Higgs boson – since these can help us understand how the current theory can be extended to explain things like the origin of dark matter in the universe and the asymmetry between matter and antimatter.”

How does teaching affect your research?

“I currently teach elementary particle physics at master's level and it is great fun!

I definitely get a deeper understanding of my own field of research by discussing it with the students

While the teaching does not directly affect my research I definitely get a deeper understanding of my own field of research by discussing it with the students. I also enjoy being able to bring examples from my own research into my teaching.”

What impact can your research have on society?

“My research teaches us about how the world works at the most fundamental level. Humans have always strived to understand and explore the world that we live in, and particle physics research has an important role to play in this universal quest. I think this aspect of particle physics also inspires young people to study science and the importance of that cannot be understated.

While it is not so clear how the results of my research will affect society in the short-term, I am confident that it will prove to be useful in the long run. Moreover, my field of research is really international and people from all over the world work together to achieve common goals.”

Tell us your views on having an international study environment!

“First of all, the academic sector and research is very international and particle physics is extremely much so.

Only by working together can we answer the biggest questions

The laws of nature are the same everywhere and something that can unite people. When you study physics, it does not matter where you come from, we can all unite behind the science. I find that very inspiring. Only by working together can we answer the biggest questions. An international study environment helps to foster this spirit.”

What would you say to a student considering studying physics at Stockholm University?

“At Stockholm University we have the Oskar Klein Centre which is one of the best places to be for anyone interested in particle physics, astroparticle physics or cosmology. Researchers at the centre work together to answer some of the outstanding questions about the universe such as the origin of dark matter and dark energy. We have recruited many leading international researchers, among them Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek, which makes the centre a really vibrant place.”

Tell us something memorable from your work as a teacher/researcher at SU!

“When I was promoted to professor a few months ago, the student organization at the department congratulated me and wrote to tell me how much they appreciated all the work I had done for the students over the years. That was wonderful, I started crying actually!”

More about Sara

Share one of your experiences with us!

“Maybe that I was one of approximately 6,000 physicists at CERN who discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012! And that I love my research field because it allows me to address the biggest questions together with people from all over the world who share the same passion.”

What are you teaching at SU?

“Electromagnetism at bachelor's level and particle physics at master's level.”

What is your field of research and your current project?

“With data from the ATLAS experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider I try to understand how the Standard Model of particle physics should be extended to incorporate currently unexplained phenomena. I am especially interested in the connection between the top quark and the Higgs boson and I am leading the SHIFT research project (Solving the Higgs Fine-Tuning Problem with Top Partners).”

When I am not working…

“I like to hang out with my husband and my two kids. I am also politically engaged in the town where I live so this takes quite a lot of my time. The rest of life I fill with horse riding, running, board games and a lot of DIY projects of questionable quality.” 

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