skip to content

Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Harry Cliff and Hannah Ubler

Cambridge physicists Hannah Übler and Harry Cliff are amongst the new cohort of ten emerging UK science leaders to be awarded an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship by the UKRI Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

This prestigious honour recognises the most promising early-career Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear physics researchers in the UK and supports them to develop their careers and push the boundaries of their field.

A total investment by STFC of over £6 million will support this year’s fellows to advance studies such as Dr Cliff’s search for new particles or Dr Übler’s exploration of the first stars.

Meet the new Ernest Rutherford Fellows in the Cavendish Laboratory

Time will tell for rare beauty decays

“For half a century, the standard model has proven to be a successful framework for the fundamental ingredients of our universe,” said Dr Cliff, a particle physicist in the High Energy Physics group at the Cavendish Laboratory. “However, there are several questions it cannot answer: What is dark matter made from? Why do the fundamental particles have the masses that they do? Why is there matter in the universe at all?”

To address such questions, Dr Cliff will search for evidence of new particles and test the standard model through studies of rare decays of beauty quarks, which will be recorded by the upgraded LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.

“In doing this, I hope to access new information that can help illuminate the anomalies and provide new avenues to discover particles from outside the standard model,” said Cliff.

The first stars and massive black hole seeds in the earliest galaxies with James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec)

“Modern cosmological theories predict that the first billion years of cosmic history witnessed the formation of the first stars, the first black holes, and the first galaxies,” said Dr Übler, an astrophysicist from the Cavendish Laboratory and Kavli Institute for Cosmology. “Thanks to the unprecedented capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), we can now study this transitional epoch observationally for the first time, to capture first light.“

Using JWST, Dr. Übler will search for the spectral fingerprints of the first generation of stars, identify infant black holes in the early Universe, and determine the nature of the first population of galaxies.

“The results from my observing campaigns will shed light on the evolution of our young Universe, will reveal how early galaxies and black holes formed and grew, and will help to constrain the next generation of theoretical models on the emergence of galaxies at cosmic dawn,” said Übler.

Now in its 14th consecutive year, the STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship programme is designed to reward talented researchers at UK universities and encourage bright minds to come to, or remain in, the country and contribute to the UK’s scientific ambitions.

Adapted from a UKRI press release.

Image: Harry Cliff (left) and Hannah Übler (right)