Gianpaolo Carosi

Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division

August 19, 2022

What do you like about working at the Lab?

One of the primary things I love about working at LLNL is the quality and diversity of my colleagues here. The Lab has an amazing depth of knowledge and a variety of disciplines beyond my current focus on particle physics. Here I can balance my interests in fundamental science with applied research that can materially support the nation.

What do your day-to-day work activities include?

I lead an experiment that looks for extremely faint microwave signals from primordial dark matter, in a similar fashion of how one would look for a radio station with an AM radio. This includes designing, constructing, and installing tunable microwave resonators to enhance the signal and suppress backgrounds, allowing us to search quickly through a large set of frequencies (equivalent to the mass of the particle). In addition, I’m fortunate to be the point-of-contact for the Department of Energy (DOE) High Energy Physics (HEP) program which includes telescope searches for dark energy, neutrino experiments, detector R&D, and theory and laser acceleration studies.

What is one project you’re really proud to have worked on?

I’m extremely proud to be working on the Axion Dark Matter Experiment (ADMX). ADMX started at LLNL in the 1990s, and after a series of upgrades, it is now one of the DOE HEP Cosmic Frontier “Generation 2” direct dark matter search projects and the DOE’s flagship US search for axion dark matter. This is currently the most sensitive experiment in the world for axions in the gigagertz (GHz) frequency range and we continue to take data in at an increasing speed (which means detection could occur at any time now).

What is your educational or career background?

I got my bachelor’s in physics from Harvey Mudd College and my PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In between undergrad and grad school I spent a summer as a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I came to LLNL 15 years ago, directly after graduate school, as a postdoctoral researcher and transitioned to a staff scientist a few years later.

What inspired you to go into science/your field of work?

I remember reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” in middle school and it completely blew my mind. I couldn’t believe the relation between time and space and how you can calculate the evaporation of a black hole from quantum mechanics. The fact that beautiful mathematics can describe nature but also that deep mysteries still exist and require exploration has always driven my desire to explore our natural world at the most fundamental level.

What advice would you give to a new employee at the Lab?

My advice would be to explore this exceptional place and to carve out the time in your busy schedule to attend presentations and visit with groups outside of your current work area. Be proactive and curious and you’ll have a very rich experience here.

What are your hobbies/what do you do in your free time?

I like to go running and I’m a big movie nerd.

Learn more about Gianpaolo: