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The Michigan Center For Theoretical Physics
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Katherine Freese Photo

Dr. Katherine Freese, Professor
University of Michigan

Dr. Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, and the Associate Director of the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics. She works on a wide range of topics in theoretical cosmology and astroparticle physics.  She has been working to identify the dark matter and dark energy that permeate the universe as well as to build a successful model for the early universe immediately after the Big Bang.  She has shown that most of the mass in galaxies does not consist of ordinary stellar material, and has proposed ways to look for alternatives such as supersymmetric particles. Currently there is a great deal of excitement about possible detections of these particles.  Recently she has proposed Dark Stars as the first stars to form in the Universe.

Professor Freese has also been working on inflation, an early expansion phase which led to our inhabitable universe. Her Natural Inflation model is the theoretically best-motivated variant of inflation; it uses axionic particles to provide the required flat potentials to drive the expansion. In 2013, observations made by the European Space Agency's Planck Satellite show that the framework of natural inflation matches the data. Freese also studies cosmology of extra dimensions, in which our three dimensional universe is embedded in higher dimensions.

Dr. Freese has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate (honoris cause) from the University of Stockholm in September 2012. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. She was awarded a Simons Foundation Fellowship in Theoretical Physics in 2012.

Dr. Freese’s work has been described in the New York Times, Scientific American, New Scientist, National Public Radio, BBC, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and other popular media. Her public appearances include Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman on the Science Channel; CBC radio; TV Ontario; Big Think; The World Science Festival in New York; and the Isaac Asimov Debate at the Museum of Natural History in NY.


Katherine Freese received her B.A. in Physics from Princeton University (as far as she knows, she was the second woman to major in Physics at Princeton); her M.A. in Physics in 1981 from Columbia University; and her Ph.D. in Physics in 1984 from the University of Chicago, where she was recipient of the William Rainey Harper Award Fellowship.  Her first postdoctoral position was at the Harvard/ Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara and a Presidential Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley.  She was an Assistant Professor at MIT from 1987-1991, where she was recipient of a SLOAN Foundation Fellowship as well as an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award.  Then she moved to the University of Michigan where she is now the George Eugene Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics. 

In 1997, she was Senior Program Officer at the Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate at the National Research Council (NRC) in Washington, D.C.  In 1999 she was Visiting Professor at the Max Planck Institute fuer Physik in Munich; in 2002 she was Visiting Professor at the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics at Columbia University; in 2007 she was Visiting Miller Professor at the University of California, Berkeley; and in 2008 she was Visiting Professor at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, CA. In 2011 she was Visiting Professor at The University of Texas, Austin; in 2012 she was Visiting Professor at Caltech and at CERN, Geneva.

Dr. Freese has served on many advisory panels and committees, including the following: She was a Member of the Board of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara from 2000-2003; General Member of the Board of the Aspen Center for Physics from 1993-2003; a member of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC; mandated by Congress)  from 2003-2008; the DMSAG (Dark Matter Scientific Advisory Group) in 2007. She served as Member of the Executive Board and General Councillor of the American Physical Society.  She is also Member of the International Advisory Board for the Oskar Klein Center for Cosmoparticle Physics in Stockholm, Sweden.

RESEARCH FIELD: Astroparticle Physics Theory

RESEARCH FOCUS: Inflationary Universe, Dark Matter

CURRICULUM VITA: Please click here for current Resume

OFFICE: 3476 Randall, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109

EMAIL: ktfreese@umich.edu

PHONE: (734) 604-1325

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (please select a publication below for PDF file):