- Submitted by Benjamin Burch
Carthage graduate Benjamin Burch’s research takes him to the stars. After graduating from Carthage in May 2006 with degrees in physics and mathematics, he went straight to Washington University in St. Louis to continue his education. He received his Master’s in physics in 2008 and received his Doctorate in 2013. A large part of his research deals with dark matter, a type of matter that does not absorb or give off light but affects other matter.
“My research focuses on determining the properties and distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way using observations of stars in the galaxy,” Dr. Burch said. “This information is used to analyze data from experiments looking for dark matter on Earth, and it is possible that Earth-bound experiments will be able to shed light as to the nature of dark matter in the next decade.”
As an incoming Carthage freshman, Dr. Burch received Carthage’s Math and Science Scholarship, a full, four-year scholarship given to one incoming freshman each year for outstanding academic performance and performance in scholarship competition. He also was a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, an honorary mathematics fraternity for students with a high GPA in mathematics, and received Carthage’s Flame Leadership Award.
At Washington University, he has earned a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Fellowship, given to four physics graduate students annually for outstanding academic performance; the annual Shull Prize, given to only one graduate student for outstanding work as a teaching assistant; and the Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship, a one-year award for work toward a promising dissertation. He also received a travel grant to India from American Physical Society to attend a conference on dark matter detection and write computer programs to calculate the expected gamma-ray emission from dark matter annihilation.
Oddly enough, had Dr. Burch not attended Carthage, he could have taken an entirely different path.
“Carthage quickly steered me away from going to medical school, where I do not think I would have been very happy,” he said. “I was able to get into a good graduate program, which I’m now leaving with a nice group of lifelong friends and an amazing wife and kids.”