The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Lara B. Anderson, an assistant professor of physics in the College of Science, for research that sheds light on the nature of fundamental physics.
A member of the Theoretical Particle Physics and String Theory group, Anderson works at the intersection of mathematics and string theory — a relatively new theory that tries to explain the physical properties of gravity, electromagnetism, and the smallest particles in nature.
Using tools from high-energy particle physics and algebraic geometry, Anderson’s work in string theory is focused on thedevelopment of “string phenomenology” — the aspect of string theory that attempts to answer the question: can string theory give a fundamental description of the real world? With interdisciplinary mathematical and physical approaches and expanding computational power, she hopes that string phenomenology is capable of providing a new view of nature from the smallest to the largest scales.
Throughout her career, Anderson has been actively involved in science outreach, with experiences ranging from lecturing in Boston area public schools through TheoryNet Boston, to designing programs for Utah high schools and communities. In the U.K., she worked with the “Researchers in Residence” program of the United Kingdom National Research Council that places science researchers in secondary schools for outreach lectures and demonstrations. She is recently involved in mentoring students in the VT Honors Program.
Before coming to Virginia Tech, Anderson held postdoctoral research positions at the University of Pennsylvania, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and Harvard University. She is a former Goldwater Scholar and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from Utah State University, and a doctorate in mathematical physics from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
Her work has been recognized by the National Science Foundation, the Royal Society (U.K.), and the Humboldt Foundation (Germany). She has recently held visiting research positions at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (University of California, Santa Barbara), the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (University of Cambridge, U.K.) and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics.