Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Frank Geurts is a new assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He received his doctorate of Philosophy and Experimental Physics in 1998 from Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands. Before joining the Rice faculty, Geurts was a research scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab from 2004-2008, and a research scientist at Rice’s Bonner Nuclear Lab in 2004. Geurts also earned his master’s degree from Universiteit Utrecht in 1992.
Geurts’ research is focused on the study of quarks and gluons at very high densities and the creation of a Quark-Gluon Plasma by colliding heavy ions at ultrarelativistic energies. Understanding matter is an essential part of the fundamental search to understand where we come from and what it is that surrounds us. A few microseconds after the Big Bang, the Universe went through a state in which quarks and gluons effectively roamed free. While the Universe continued to cool down these particles grouped themselves into the particles such as protons and neutrons. Nowadays increasingly powerful accelerators and new detectors have provided a wealth of data: allowing bigger clumps of nuclear matter to collide at very high energies. It is fascinating to recreate and measure such a Quark-Gluon plasma with temperatures of about 2 trillion Kelvin in the lab.
Geurts is currently collaborating with the STAR experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Accelerator (RHIC) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton NY, and with the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
Explaining why he chose to come to Rice, Geurts says, “The Bonner Lab is at the very forefront of developing detectors that are used in the experiments both at RHIC and LHC. At RHIC, the Bonner Lab leads a multi-million dollar detector upgrade project for the STAR experiment. This highly anticipated upgrade will be crucial in the identification of particles. In addition, the Bonner Lab has played a key role in the development of online event selection electronics for the CMS experiment at CERN.”