The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes James Gray, an assistant professor in the College of Science, for his exploration of string theory.
String theory is a theory of particle physics that successfully marries quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of gravity.
As a member of the Theoretical Particle Physics and String Theory group in the Department of Physics, Gray specializes in the sub-field of “string phenomenology.”
This studies the predictions of the subject for particle physics, in an attempt to experimentally test the theory.
The work uses state-of-the-art techniques in computational geometry to study the shapes of the hidden extra dimensions that are a part of the formulation of the theory. The precise geometry of these extra dimensions determines the physical laws that we observe in a universe described by string theory.
Throughout his career, Gray has been actively involved in science education at a wide variety of levels. He has taught at numerous international summer schools for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, both in the U.S. and in Europe.
He is currently involved with the Integrated Science Curriculum at Virginia Tech and has received two favorite faculty awards for his undergraduate teaching. Currently, Gray is in the process of setting up an inter-institutional working group in his subject with colleagues at Virginia Tech and James Madison University. This effort, which is supported by the 4-VA initiative, will involve a high level of student involvement.
Gray’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation. He has recently held visiting research positions at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara; CERN; and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics.
Before coming to Virginia Tech, Gray held postdoctoral research positions in Newcastle, Durham, Paris, and Oxford before moving to Munich for a junior faculty position. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Oxford and a doctoral degree from the University of Sussex.