Nordisk institut for teoretisk fysik

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference

Interview with Katherine Freese, Director of the Weinberg Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Jeff and Gail Kodosky Endowed Chair in Physics at UT Austin, and the Director of the Texas Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (TCCAP). Freese begins the interview with an overview of terminology, such as cosmology, astrophysics, and astroparticle physics and the delineation between these fields. Then she describes her childhood in Bethesda, Maryland where both her parents were scientists. Freese recalls beginning college at age 16, starting at MIT and then transferring to Princeton. She recounts taking time off after her undergraduate studies, before deciding to pursue graduate studies. Freese began grad school at Columbia but switched to the University of Chicago to work on neutrino physics with David Schramm. She discusses her first post-doc at Harvard, working on WIMPs and dark matter, and then her second post-doc at Santa Barbara with Frank Wilczek. Freese then recalls returning to MIT as a professor where she worked with Alan Guth and Josh Frieman on cosmic inflation. She talks about her transition to the University of Michigan and the exciting developments in cosmology at the time, as well as her introduction to dark energy. Freese describes her more recent involvement with NASA’s SPIDER experiment, as well as the honor of being named to the National Academy of Sciences. Freese discusses the amazing opportunity of being the Director at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics and ends the interview with her hopes for the future of cosmology, namely her hope for finding dark matter.