UIUC vs UFlorida for hep-th

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UIUC vs UFlorida for hep-th

Post by salamander » Sun Apr 05, 2020 1:21 pm

I am interested in hep-th with the goal of staying in academia as a research professor. I’ve been accepted to both UIUC and UFlorida and I am wondering if anyone has any insight as to which program has a better reputation in hep and turning out grad students that stay in academia. I’ve looked at the statistics for job placement from both schools and they seem fairly similar, although the statistics are for PhD in physics in general, not broken down into fields. From looking at their list of courses, Florida has many more hep courses available while UIUC seems to be more focused on research earlier on, but does this make a significant difference? If anyone has any comments at all I would really appreciate it!

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Re: UIUC vs UFlorida for hep-th

Post by geekusprimus » Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:13 pm

Illinois is overall a better school for physics, but their reputation isn't for particle physics. To help you out, I took a quick look at the particle theorists at both schools.

Most of the guys listed in Florida's particle theory group are really old. Even if they're still actively teaching and researching, there are only two professors for sure that I would say are young enough not to be retired in five years, and one more who might not be retired in five years. That being said, Konstantin Matchev appears to be pretty well known in particle physics, at least going by his h-index and number of publications, and he's still young enough that he'll probably be around in five years. Might be worth it to reach out to him and see if he anticipates needing any new students in the near future.

There only seem to be a few particle theorists at Illinois, but they're all young enough that you could work with them. None of them are outstandingly famous, but they're also not completely unknown, from what I can tell. Because Illinois is overall such a good physics school, there are probably more opportunities here for interdisciplinary work. That's not a bad thing to consider; there's a lot of HEP-th work in cosmology (dark matter detection, probing for new particles with gravitational waves, etc.), condensed matter (building larger-scale analogues for systems detectors can't probe, etc.), and probably some other fields, too.

Illinois is definitely the safer choice because of the overall greater prestige of the institution and the higher likelihood of having faculty you can work with. However, if you have a firm commitment from a well-known professor at Florida, it's not a bad place to consider. Have you reached out to any of the professors at either school?

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