PHIALA SHANAHAN, Associate Professor of Physics

Class of 1957 Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics

EMAIL: pshana@mit.edu

PHONE: (617) 253-6267

OFFICE: 6-416

ASSISTANT: Scott Morley (617) 253-4852


Area of Physics:

Theoretical Nuclear and Particle Physics

Research Interests

Professor Shanahan’s research interests are focussed around theoretical nuclear and particle physics. In particular, she works to understand the structure and interactions of hadrons and nuclei from the fundamental (quark and gluon) degrees of freedom encoded in the Standard Model of particle physics. Shanahan’s recent work has focused in particular on the role of gluons, the force carriers of the strong interactions described by Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), in hadron and nuclear structure; using analytic tools and high performance supercomputing, she recently achieved the first calculation of the gluon structure of light nuclei, making predictions which will be testable in new experiments proposed at Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and at the planned Electron-Ion Collider. She has also undertaken extensive studies of the role of strange quarks in the proton and light nuclei which sharpen theory predictions for dark matter cross-sections in direct detection experiments. To overcome computational limitations in QCD calculations for hadrons and in particular for nuclei, Prof. Shanahan is pursuing a program to integrate modern machine learning techniques in computational nuclear physics studies.

Biographical Sketch

Phiala Shanahan grew up in Adelaide, Australia, and obtained her BSc from the University of Adelaide in 2012 and her PhD, also from the University of Adelaide, in 2015. Before joining the MIT physics faculty in July 2018, Prof. Shanahan was a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT from 2015-2017, and held a joint position as Assistant Professor at the College of William & Mary and Senior Staff Scientist at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility from 2017-2018. Prof. Shanahan is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, was named as an Emmy Noether fellow in 2018, and was listed in the Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 in Science in 2017.

Selected Publications


Last updated on September 10, 2020 10:02 AM