Lisa Randall

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Lisa Randall

Lisa randall by christopher michel 02.jpg
Professor Lisa Randall
Born (1962-06-18) June 18, 1962 (age 60)
Queens, New York City, New York, U.S.
EducationStuyvesant High School
Alma materHarvard University (BA, PhD)
Known forRandall–Sundrum model
Warped Passages
Awards Klopsteg Memorial Award (2006)
Lilienfeld Prize (2007)
Andrew Gemant Award (2012)
Sakurai Prize (2019)
Scientific career
InstitutionsLawrence Berkeley Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley
Princeton University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Howard Georgi
Doctoral students Csaba Csáki

Lisa Randall HonFInstP (born June 18, 1962) is an American theoretical physicist working in particle physics and cosmology. She is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the physics faculty of Harvard University. [1] Her research includes the fundamental forces of nature and dimensions of space. She studies the Standard Model, supersymmetry, possible solutions to the hierarchy problem concerning the relative weakness of gravity, cosmology of dimensions, baryogenesis, cosmological inflation, and dark matter. [2] She contributed to the Randall–Sundrum model, first published in 1999 with Raman Sundrum. [3]


Early life and education

Randall was born in Queens, New York City, New York. An alumna of Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics, she graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1980, [4] where she was a classmate of fellow physicist and science popularizer Brian Greene. [4] [5] She won first place in the 1980 Westinghouse Science Talent Search at the age of 18 and was also named a National Merit Scholar. At Harvard University, Randall earned both a BA in physics (1983) and a PhD in theoretical particle physics (1987) under Howard Georgi. [1]


Randall researches particle physics and cosmology at Harvard, where she is a professor of theoretical physics. Her research concerns elementary particles and fundamental forces, and has involved the study of a wide variety of models, the most recent involving dimensions. She has also worked on supersymmetry, Standard Model observables, cosmological inflation, baryogenesis, grand unified theories, and general relativity.

After her graduate work at Harvard, Randall held professorships at MIT and Princeton University before returning to Harvard in 2001. [6] Professor Randall was the first tenured woman in the Princeton physics department and the first tenured female theoretical physicist at Harvard. (Melissa Franklin was the first tenured woman in the Harvard physics department.) [7] [8]


Randall's books Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World have both been on New York Times 100 notable books lists. [1]

Between the hardback and paperback release of Knocking on Heaven's Door, the quest for the discovery of the Higgs boson was actually completed, a subject discussed in the book. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider found a particle identified as the Higgs boson. [9] [10] She said about the discovery, that even if people don't understand everything about it, "what an exciting thing it is that people are excited that there is something fundamentally new that has been discovered." [11] Randall has an e-book entitled Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space. Before the Large Hadron Collider was operating, she wrote an article explaining the discoveries that were expected from using it. [12] She was commonly asked about the misconception that the LHC could make black holes that could destroy the planet. [13] She answered that it was "not even conceivable unless space and gravity are very different from what we thought." [12]

Randall wrote the libretto of the opera Hypermusic Prologue: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes on the invitation of the composer, Hèctor Parra, who was inspired by her book Warped Passages. [14]

Professional organizations

Randall is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004) and the National Academy of Sciences (2008), [2] the American Philosophical Society, [15] and a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Randall has helped organize numerous conferences and has been on the editorial board of several major theoretical physics journals. [1] [6]

Awards and honors

In autumn 2004, she was the most cited theoretical physicist of the previous five years. Professor Randall was featured in Seed magazine's "2005 Year in Science Icons" and in Newsweek 's "Who's Next in 2006" as "one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation". In 2007, Randall was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People (Time 100) under the section for "Scientists & Thinkers". Randall was given this honor for her work regarding the evidence of a higher dimension. [16]

Other honors:

Personal life

In an interview she was asked whether she believes in God, she said:

"... I probably don't believe in God. I think it's a problem that people are considered immoral if they're not religious. That's just not true. This might earn me some enemies, but in some ways they may be even more moral. If you do something for a religious reason, you do it because you'll be rewarded in an afterlife or in this world. That's not quite as good as something you do for purely generous reasons." [27]

Randall's sister, Dana Randall, is a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech. [28]


Related Research Articles

Particle physics Branch of physics concerning the nature of particles

Particle physics or high energy physics is the study of fundamental particles and forces that constitute matter and radiation. The fundamental particles in the universe are classified in the Standard Model as fermions and bosons. There are three generations of fermions, but ordinary matter is made only from the first fermion generation. The first generation consists of up and down quarks which form protons and neutrons, and electrons and electron neutrinos. The three fundamental interactions known to be mediated by bosons are electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and the strong interaction.

In physics, Randall–Sundrum models are models that describe the world in terms of a warped-geometry higher-dimensional universe, or more concretely as a 5-dimensional anti-de Sitter space where the elementary particles are localized on a (3 + 1)-dimensional brane or branes.

Hierarchy problem Unsolved problem in physics

In theoretical physics, the hierarchy problem is the problem concerning the large discrepancy between aspects of the weak force and gravity. There is no scientific consensus on why, for example, the weak force is 1024 times stronger than gravity.

Tom Kibble British physicist

Sir Thomas Walter Bannerman Kibble, was a British theoretical physicist, senior research investigator at the Blackett Laboratory and Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. His research interests were in quantum field theory, especially the interface between high-energy particle physics and cosmology. He is best known as one of the first to describe the Higgs mechanism, and for his research on topological defects. From the 1950s he was concerned about the nuclear arms race and from 1970 took leading roles in promoting the social responsibility of the scientist.

<i>Warped Passages</i> Book by Lisa Randall

Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions is the debut non-fiction book by Lisa Randall, published in 2005, about particle physics in general and additional dimensions of space in particular. The book has made it to top 50 at, making it the world's first successful book on theoretical physics by a female author. She herself characterizes the book as being about physics and the multi-dimensional universe. The book describes, at a non-technical level, theoretical models Professor Randall developed with the physicist Raman Sundrum, in which various aspects of particle physics are explained in a higher-dimensional braneworld scenario. These models have since generated thousands of citations.

John Ellis (physicist, born 1946) British physicist

Jonathan Richard Ellis is a British theoretical physicist who is currently Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's College London.

Raman Sundrum Indian-American theoretical particle physicist

Raman Sundrum is an Indian-American theoretical particle physicist. He contributed to the field with a class of models called the Randall–Sundrum models, first published in 1999 with Lisa Randall. Sundrum is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland and the director of Maryland Center for Fundamental Physics.

The J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics, is presented by the American Physical Society at its annual April Meeting, and honors outstanding achievement in particle physics theory. The prize consists of a monetary award, a certificate citing the contributions recognized by the award, and a travel allowance for the recipient to attend the presentation. The award is endowed by the family and friends of particle physicist J. J. Sakurai. The prize has been awarded annually since 1985.

Physics beyond the Standard Model Theories trying to extend known physics

Physics beyond the Standard Model (BSM) refers to the theoretical developments needed to explain the deficiencies of the Standard Model, such as the inability to explain the fundamental parameters of the standard model, the strong CP problem, neutrino oscillations, matter–antimatter asymmetry, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Another problem lies within the mathematical framework of the Standard Model itself: the Standard Model is inconsistent with that of general relativity, and one or both theories break down under certain conditions, such as spacetime singularities like the Big Bang and black hole event horizons.

François Englert Belgian theoretical physicist

François, Baron Englert is a Belgian theoretical physicist and 2013 Nobel prize laureate.

David Elazzar Kaplan is a theoretical particle physicist at the Johns Hopkins University.

Cosmic Variance was a collaborative weblog discussing physics, astrophysics, and other topics, written by JoAnne Hewett, Mark Trodden, Sean Carroll, Risa Wechsler, Julianne Dalcanton, John Conway, and Daniel Holz. It was the successor to Carroll's earlier blog Preposterous Universe, which began in early 2004 and ran through much of 2005. The blog's name came from the cosmology concept of cosmic variance.

The Klopsteg Memorial Award is an annual prize given to a notable physicist in memory of Paul E. Klopsteg. Established in 1990, it is awarded by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Marcela Carena

Marcela Silvia Carena Lopez is a theoretical physicist, Distinguished Scientist, and head of the Theory Division, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She is also a professor at the University of Chicago, where she is a member of the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.

Kyle Cranmer is an American physicist and a professor at New York University at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics and Affiliated Faculty member at NYU's Center for Data Science. He is an experimental particle physicist working, primarily, on the Large Hadron Collider, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Cranmer popularized a collaborative statistical modeling approach and developed statistical methodology, which was used extensively for the discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC in July, 2012.

<i>Particle Fever</i> 2013 film by Mark Levinson

Particle Fever is a 2013 American documentary film tracking the first round of experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland. The film follows the experimental physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) who run the experiments, as well as the theoretical physicists who attempt to provide a conceptual framework for the LHC's results. The film begins in 2008 with the first firing of the LHC and concludes in 2012 with the successful identification of the Higgs boson.

Yasunori Nomura Japanese theoretical physicist

Yasunori Nomura is a theoretical physicist working on particle physics, quantum gravity, and cosmology. He is a professor of physics at University of California, Berkeley, a senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a principal investigator at Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe. Since 2015, he has been the director of the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics.

<i>Knocking on Heavens Door</i> (book) Book by Lisa Randall

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World is the second non-fiction book by Lisa Randall. It was initially published on September 20, 2011, by Ecco Press. The title is explained in the text: "Scientists knock on heaven's door in an attempt to cross the threshold separating the known from the unknown."

<i>Higgs Discovery</i> Book by Lisa Randall

Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space is a short non-fiction book by Lisa Randall, in which she concentrates on the ideas discussed in her two previous books. Higgs Discovery was initially published on September 24, 2013 by Ecco Press.

In physics, extra dimensions are proposed additional space or time dimensions beyond the (3 + 1) typical of observed spacetime, such as the first attempts based on the Kaluza–Klein theory. Among theories proposing extra dimensions are:


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