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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y02124X/1
Title: Hawking - Precision, novelty, and theoretical uncertainties in physics beyond the Standard Model
Principal Investigator: Banerjee, Dr S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 May 2024 Ends: 30 April 2027 Value (£): 493,143
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Oct 2023 EPSRC Physical Sciences Prioritisation Panel B- October 2023 Announced
05 Dec 2023 The Stephen Hawking Fellowships Panel- December 2023 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Of all the matter and energy in our universe, approximately 5% is made of visible particles. These particles are called fermions and they interact among themselves with the force carriers, called bosons. The Higgs field is responsible for the elementary particles to acquire their masses, including the associated Higgs boson. The discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, was thus a milestone in the history of particle physics. The Higgs mechanism was hypothesised by three independent groups in 1964 with the aim of curing mathematical inconsistencies in describing matter at the smallest of scales. This discovery completed the so-called Standard Model of particle physics (SM), painting a clear picture of elementary particles which makes up all known matter. Two of its proponents, Peter Higgs and François Englert, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013. Yet, inconsistencies in the understanding of fundamental interactions at high energy scales still persist, and can be remedied by several theories beyond the Standard Model (BSM) like Supersymmetric, Compositeness models, and more. Moreover, neutrino, astrophysical, and cosmological observations reveal the limitations of SM to describe all observed phenomena. Part of these mysteries are referred to as Dark Matter (DM) and Dark Energy, the potential explanations of which are among the greatest scientific challenges of our times.

Since the discovery of the Higgs, a community-wide search for BSM physics is prioritised at the LHC. However, to date, no unambiguous hints for new physics have been found at the LHC. These hints are thus expected to manifest as tiny deviations with respect to SM expectations in the production and decay rates for scattering processes at the LHC. The solution to discover the so-called unknown unknowns relies heavily on large experimental data sets, and equally matched theoretical precision in the SM and beyond. From projection studies of the future runs of the LHC, it is strongly expected that future colliders will be imperative to answer some of the previously mentioned fundamental observations. The main focus of my proposal covers phenomenological analyses with unprecedented levels of precise quantum corrections to multifarious particle physics interactions in the context of colliders, and DM observables in the context of astrophysical experiments. These corrections are conceptually and computationally complex and require the usage and development of dedicated software packages.

One of the main purposes of this proposal is performing precise theoretical calculations to utilise the experimental data fully and to find new physics that are still eluding us. To achieve such precise theoretical predictions, I employ a class of tools referred to as the Effective Field Theories (EFTs) that optimally parametrise unknown large-scale physics and help in extracting the various properties (spin, mass, couplings, charge, etc.) of the elementary particles. The EFTs also help us in understanding whether or not there can be additional particles in our universe. Another important purpose is to measure how the Higgs boson self-interacts. The proposal addresses other aspects concerning the nature of the Higgs boson including the quantification of rare interactions of the Higgs boson. The more precisely we estimate and measure these properties, the better we understand the dynamics of our universe.

Lastly, I propose to obtain very precise theoretical predictions in the context of BSM theories giving rise to DM to match the percent-level experimental precision. We know that DM makes up close to 27% of our universe, is most likely electrically neutral, and can interact gravitationally. Yet, we do not know the mass and interaction strength of such particles. I propose precise theoretical calculations and minimisation of the theoretical uncertainties both of which will be of paramount importance in the discovery of DM.
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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk