Janet Conrad’s work focuses on the lightest known particle of matter, the neutrino. The number of neutrinos in the universe far exceeds the number of atoms, yet we know surprisingly little about them. Recently, scientists have realized these particles actually have mass—albeit a very tiny one—which represents the first chink in the longstanding and surprisingly resilient theory of particle physics called the Standard Model. Conrad is now exploring whether neutrinos have other unexpected properties and is working to develop an updated model for particle physics that incorporates these new surprises.
Conrad is a physics professor at MIT. She’s also a member of the IceCube Experiment, located at the South Pole, and she’s a member of the MicroBooNE experiment located at Fermilab, near Chicago. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and, in 2001, received its Maria Goeppert Mayer Award for her leadership in experimental neutrino physics.