High Energy Physics

The members of the High Energy Theory group at USC are a very dynamic group whose contributions to the field have been widely recognized. Currently, the main emphasis of the group is on superstring theory and related topics. Included in the group are Professors Itzhak Bars, Nathan Benjamin (new in Fall 2024), Krzysztof Pilch, Hubert Saleur, and Nicholas Warner.

Group Web Site: High Energy Physics


A large part of the group’s activity concerns the study of gravity and quantum mechanics in extremes in which some of our most basic and well-trusted theories either fail, or provide  conflicting answers.   The most dramatic of these problems occur in the Big Bang and in black holes, where standard general relativity predicts its own failure through the formation of singularities.  The simplest approach to combining gravity with quantum mechanics leads to a host of problems, including the black-hole information paradox.

String theory is believed to be a viable theory of quantum gravity and it is one of the cornerstones of the research we do on these areas.  The study of string theory  has led to remarkable new insights and developments in field theory, particle physics, cosmology and the study of black holes.  Such new ideas include holographic field theory, duality of field theories, the study of phase transitions and the development of 2T-physics.  The work of the USC group reflects the breadth and vitality of these diverse research areas both within foundations of string theory and quantum gravity as well as in the theoretical ideas that have emerged from string theory that are now being applied to a range of other subfields such as nuclear and condensed matter physics.

Other activities in the group include studies of conformal field theory and its applications, non-equilibrium physics, and various critical or near-critical systems that are found in nature.