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Daniel K

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Particle colliders, Coding in physics, Dark matter


My background and degrees are focused on physics. I got my doctorate studying theoretical particle physics at MIT. Most of my work focused on analyzing data from particle colliders using new techniques. After graduate school, I spent a couple of years at IXL learning, an educational technology company. I spent my time constructing middle school physics curriculum, which required thinking through concepts in order to explain them as clearly as possible. Since mid-2018, I have worked for the Institute for Defense Analyses, where I use my physics background to help the government with difficult technical challenges.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Particle colliders

Particle colliders are used to study the smallest components of matter. In this project, we will spend a couple of sessions studying the general structure and purpose of colliders. Then you will pick one aspect of colliders (e.g., detectors, beam steering, data analysis) to do a deeper dive. If you have coding experience, you will do a small simulation of that part of the collider. The final product will be a review-style article about the aspect of colliders you have picked.

Coding in physics

In this project you will take a physical system and simulate it using python code. We will work together to find an appropriate system, which can range from the gravitational forces holding galaxies together to complex circuits. Then, you will break the system down into a model that can be implemented in code. Some background in physics would be helpful, but we can adjust what phenomenon we look at to match where you are. Coding background not required. The final product will be your simulation code and a short paper explaining how it works.

Evidence for dark matter

The goal of this project will be a comprehensive review of the current evidence for the existence of dark matter. You will perform a literature review. If you have coding experience, you will additionally create simple simulations that model the data and show why dark matter can explain them. The final product will be a journal-style review paper explaining the current state of dark matter evidence.

Coding skills

Python, Mathematica

Teaching experience

I taught and mentored undergraduates while I was in graduate school. In addition to being a TA for Classical Mechanics, and Electricity and Magnetism courses, I mentored a group of students through the writing process for a final paper for a Quantum Mechanics class. I also have online education experience, both in graduate school and after, when I worked for an educational technology company designing online curricula. My teaching and course design work in graduate school earned the Buechner teaching prize. I have also been working with Polygence as a mentor since 2020.


Work experience

IXL Learning (2016 - 2018)
Science Curriculum Designer
Institute for Defense Analyses (2018 - Current)
Research Staff Member


California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
BS Bachelor of Science (2011)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2016)

Completed Projects

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