Seth Koren

Seth Koren


Postdoctoral Researcher

University of Notre Dame


I’m a theoretical physicist focused on understanding what exists Beyond the Standard Models of particle physics and cosmology by working at the junction of high energy theory and the real world. I have broad interests across many aspects of particle physics, field theory, and cosmology, and I enjoy collaborating, mentoring, and other forms of talking about physics.

I’m proud of my dissertation, which begins with an extensive introduction aiming to pedagogically explain renormalization and the hierarchy problem. I place considerable focus on clearing conceptual pitfalls and on debunking common misconsceptions, and I’ve been flattered to hear that it is a useful resource for the community. My thesis also received the APS 2022 Sakurai Dissertation Award in Theoretical Particle Physics.

Recently I was honored to deliver the UChicago Enrico Fermi Institute’s 91st Compton Lectures, a series of lectures each Saturday for the general public over eight weeks in Spring 2023. I presented a wide-ranging course with the title “Particles, the Cosmos, and You: An Origin Story from the Edges of Space and Time” aimed at presenting our well-understood, empirical answers to age-old questions like “What are we made of?” and “Where did we come from?” through the lens of fundamental particle physics and cosmology. The first lecture is available on YouTube.

What the heck sort of website is this anyway

You may read many academic biographies, or talk to many professors, or listen to many interviews with famous scientists where you learn about someone who always knew they wanted to do science; or grew up inspired by some family friend who was a physicist; or who won national science contests in high school; or who solved some longstanding open problem as an undergraduate, and then you go away a bit awed and feeling like maybe you aren’t sure that you can make it as a scientist yourself. There are enough such websites you may visit, and that is decidedly not my story.

My interest in understanding the world scientifically was not stoked by any familial support, but contrarily arose from my need to discover how incorrect my own parents' anti-science views were, and to seek medical care for myself. It was not until mid-way through college that I understood that science was something that was still actively being discovered, and that this was a pursuit that perhaps I could hope to participate in. Now not much more than a decade later, I’m happy to have the privilege to spend my time thinking about physics professionally. But it has not been without significant costs as well.

So it is my intention here to be honest and overly open about myself and my experiences in and out of academia—to be raw and unfiltered. My hope is thereby to reflect the reality that you don’t have to have done everything right, or have started learning science as a toddler, or have a brain which works like others', or conform to any aesthetic or gender or sexual norms in order to be a good physicist. Because I have found from myself and others that it is too easy to pick up countervailing such lessons. I expand on this motivation elsewhere on this site, and I also took the opportunity of accepting the APS Sakurai Award to make some related unconventional remarks as well.