John March-Russell

profile image

John March-Russell

Professor of Theoretical Physics. Fellow, New College

I am a theoretical particle physicist working primarily on the creation of new "Beyond-the-Standard-Model" theories of the fundamental forces and matter. I also have strong interests in astroparticle physics, especially the nature of dark matter, and string phenomenology. In the past I have also worked on quantum black hole physics and, somewhat more down-to-earth, the possibility in condensed matter and other systems, of exotic fractional and non-Abelian statistics generalizing usual Bosons and Fermions, among other things.

I graduated from Imperial College with a BSc in Physics, and then in 1990 gained a MA and PhD in Theoretical Physics from Harvard University under the joint guidance of Sidney Coleman and Frank Wilczek. After research fellowships at Princeton & UC Berkeley, I joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as junior faculty, and then in 1998 moved back to Europe to become a faculty member of the Theoretical Physics Group at CERN. In 2002 I joined Oxford University and New College. Since 2009 I have been a regular Visiting Professor at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, and most recently have enjoyed a Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute in Canada. I have received awards and prizes from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the A.P. Sloan Foundation, the Royal Society, the Simons Foundation, the US Department of Energy, NATO, the Frank Knox Foundation, Harvard University, London University, and, outside of physics, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board, the Arts Council of England, and even the Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art!

Here is a full list of my publications with links where they can be downloaded.

A brief CV can be found here.

For those of you interested, my Fermi and Born numbers are 4, my Erdos number 3 and my Kevin Bacon number, suitably interpreted, is 2 (ask me).


Electromagnetism (2nd year course MT 2012-)

Lecture notes:
EM11(Yeomans with additions), EM12(Yeomans with additions),
EM13, EM14, EM15, EM-RevisionSlides

Problem Sets:
ProbSet1, ProbSet2, ProbSet3, ProbSet4

Vector Calculus, part two (1st year course HT, 2012-13)

Lecture notes

Quantum Mechanics (2nd year course MT and HT, 2003-07)

Synopsis of MT lectures

PDF scans of MT lecture notes (warning 20MB each): MTnotes1, MTnotes2, MTnotes3

PDF scan of HT notes

Textbooks and background reading

Michaelmas Term Problem Set

Hilary Term Problem Set


Some background reading materials: (only a subset of these relevant each year!)


The Strong CP Problem and Axions (R. Peccei)


Supersymmetry and the MSSM an Elementary Introduction (I. Aitchison)

A Supersymmetry Primer (S. Martin)

Extra Dimensions and Branes:

Cargese Lectures on Extra Dimensions (R. Rattazzi)

Large and Infinite Extra Dimensions (V. Rubakov)

TASI Lectures on a Holographic View of Beyond the Standard Model Physics (T. Gherghetta)

Neutrino Physics (out-of-date)

(spring 2011) state of neutrino physics (G. Altarelli closing talk, Neutel 2011)

(Paradoxes of) Neutrino Oscillations (A. Smirnov)

Beyond-the-Standard-Model (BSM) physics involves the development of new theories to describe the most fundamental aspects of the world around us. These include the nature of space and time, the origin and behaviour of the forces and matter we observe, the evolution of the very early universe and its origin, and the quantum properties of such exotic objects as black holes.

Here is a full list of my publications with links where they can be downloaded.

My present DPhil students are

  • Olivier Lennon
  • Hannah Tillim (co-supervised)
  • Rudin Petrossian-Byrne
  • Michael Nee (co-supervised)

while those who've already escaped the long arm of the law are (with present location)

  • Ben Gripaios (Professor, Cambridge University)
  • Stephen West (Reader, Royal Holloway College, London University)
  • Thomas Flacke (Research Prof., Korea University)
  • Babiker Hassanain (Finance, NYC)
  • Francesco Riva (Professor, University of Geneva)
  • Joao Rosa (Associate Professor, University of Coimbra)
  • Matthew McCullough (Permanent Staff Member, CERN)
  • Chris McCabe (University Lecturer, Kings College, London)
  • David "Doddy" Marsh (Assistant Professor, Goettingen)
  • Mathew Bullimore (University Lecturer, Durham)
  • James Unwin (Assistant Prof., University of Illinois Chicago)
  • Nana Liu (Postdoc, Singapore National University)
  • Edward Hardy (University Lecturer, Liverpool)
  • Robert Lasenby (Long-term Research Fellow, Stanford University)
  • James Scoville (Major, USAF)
  • Isabel Garcia Garcia (KITP Fellow, UC Santa Barbara)
  • James Scargill (Postdoc, UC Davis)
  • James Bonifacio (Postdoc, Cambridge)
  • Jesse Liu (Postdoc, Cambridge)

In addition over the last decade I've worked closely with a whole generation of Stanford PhD students, especially

  • Asimina ("Mina") Arvanitaki (Aristarchus Chair in Theoretical Physics, Perimeter Institute)
  • Nathaniel Craig (Associate Professor, UC Santa Barbara)
  • Masha Baryakhtar (Assistant Professor, Washington University)
  • Kiel Howe (Postdoc, Fermilab)

My recent research has focused upon four topics:

Dark Matter and Dark Energy: These new forms of matter and energy are indirectly inferred to exist by virtue of their gravitational effects, and appear to dominate the behaviour of our universe on length scales of galaxies and larger. However we do not know the exact nature of the dark matter, and even more the dark energy, or how these two pieces of new physics fit into and extend our theory of the fundamental forces and matter particles. This is a exciting time to be thinking about dark matter as there are lots of good ideas, such as stable heavy particles or super-light axions, or even primordial black holes, but most importantly there are a large number of experiments starting to stringently test these ideas. Almost every week there have been anomalies in experiments (or rumours of such anomalies) that could be explained by a particular dark matter candidate.

Extra Dimensions, Brane Worlds, and String Phenomenology: The "brane world" idea is the conjecture that we may be living on a higher-dimensional generalization of a membrane ( a `brane') embedded in a higher dimensional spacetime. This proposal has an extraordinarily rich set of new phenomena with which it is associated and which we can search for. It is also a highly-motivated (I'm tempted to say "reasonable"!) possibility in the context of string theory. Related to this, but more general, the aim of string phenomenology is to find features of string theory that might be amenable to experimental test, either in high energy colliders such as the LHC, or by low-energy precision experiments or astrophysical or cosmological observations.

Classical and Quantum Black Hole Physics and Gravitational Waves:Black holes are some of the most perfect, but also most mysterious objects in all of nature. The recent Advanced LIGO detection of gravitational waves from merging black holes opens up a new, and exceptionally exciting era in (classical) gravitational physics research and observation. The quantum properties of black holes are much much less well understood but appear to imply that there are fundamental new features of the quantum world that are still to be uncovered.

Supersymmetry & LHC Physics: Supersymmetry is a new form of quantum mechanical space-time symmetry that connects the properties of bosons with fermions. In our world bosons are the mediators of long-range forces such as the graviton for gravity, or the photon for electromagnetism, or "gauge particles" of the weak and strong nuclear forces, and the Higgs particle. Fermions include the matter particles such as quarks and leptons. Supersymmetry predicts as-yet-unobserved new particles -- the "superpartners" to each and every observed particle. These superpartners are analogous to the observed antiparticle partners that were predicted by Dirac's unification of relativity and quantum mechanics. Correctly thought about, supersymmetry is really the possibility that the classical idea of a dimension might have a discrete intrinsically-quantum generalization. Supersymmetry is one form of new physics that might be discovered by one of the three main LHC experiments, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb.