"The MRADS Summer Research Award allowed me to start doing dark matter particle physics research with the Safdi Group at the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics. Everything that we can see in the world around us and everything that has ever been detected by our scientific equipment only makes up about five percent of the universe. The rest is made up of so-called “dark matter” and “dark energy,” which – as  their names suggest – have thus far not been directly observed or described. In my research, I looked into whether strange spectral lines coming from different parts of the universe match up with models we have for what dark matter might be. In particular, I have been coding an analysis framework to determine whether these spectral lines could be caused by decaying sterile neutrino dark matter particles.

Working with computer code and statistics at a very high level for months in a row has really helped me advance many of the technical skills necessary to be successful in physics research. I had to create my analysis framework on my own from the ground up, so it has usually been up to me to figure out the physics and statistics I needed. I have never been so independent in a research group before, and it has taught me a lot about solving brand new problems without having anyone or anything to point you to a solution – a skill that I know will be very valuable going forward.

Having been able to really pour myself into my work this summer has provided a great launching point into the future, and I am really excited to see where my work goes in the upcoming months!"

-Marius Kongsoere, MRADS Alumni Scholarship Recipient