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Dr. Neil Christensen

Associate Professor
Moulton Hall - MLT 312D
  • About
  • Education
  • Awards & Honors
  • Research

Current Courses

390.016Computational Research In Physics

340.001Electricity And Magnetism II

112.001Physics For Science And Engineering III

112.002Physics For Science And Engineering III

290.016Research In Physics

Research Interests & Areas

Two of the great revolutions of physics in the 20th century were relativity and quantum mechanics. Combining special relativity and quantum mechanics produced relativistic quantum mechanics or, as it is better known, quantum field theory. As soon as it was created, quantum field theory predicted the existence of antiparticles which were discovered shortly afterwards. Almost a century later, quantum field theory has become a mature field and is the framework within which the Standard Model of particle physics is built. The Standard Model has been extremely successful at predicting and explaining almost all experiments to date, with the most recent success being the spectacular confirmation of the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model. Nevertheless, there are many outstanding problems that are not yet accounted for by the Standard Model. Among those are the fine-tuning problem of the Higgs boson, the properties of dark matter, the explanation for dark energy, a detailed understanding of the hierarchy of fermion masses and the abundance of matter but not antimatter in the universe. On the other hand, there are also fundamental problems with quantum field theory itself. It is not able to successfully accommodate gravity at very small scales and therefore appears to be incomplete. Furthermore, new methods of calculating the probability of particle scattering appear to be leading us towards a more fundamental theory of relativistic quantum mechanics opening up new areas of research into fundamental physics.

My research deals with the exploration of these problems, both in the Standard Model and in the fundamental aspects of relativistic quantum mechanics itself. I use a combination of analytical and computational methods to explore these problems, sometimes emphasizing one and sometimes the other. Computational power continues to grow exponentially, following Moore's law, enabling ever more complex calculations. It is my belief that this will create one of the next revolutions in fundamental physics and therefore apply a good amount of my time in this direction. On the other hand, a new theoretical understanding of a problem can often far surpass even the most powerful computational model. So, I think it is important to approach fundamental physics from both directions and find the most advantageous route at a particular time.

A listing of my publications can be found on the inSpire website.

Ph D Theoretical Physics

Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY

BA Mathematics

University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT


Snow College
Ephraim, UT

Pre-tenure Faculty Initiative Grant

Illinois State University

New Faculty Initiative Grant

Illinois State University

Honorable Teaching Award

Society of Physics Students, Illinois State University

Summer Undergraduate Research Award for Independent Research

The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Research Grant

Department of Energy

The Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Research Scholarship


Samuel P. Langley PITT-PACC Fellowship

Pittsburgh Particle physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology Center

LHC-TI Fellowship

National Science Foundation

Max Dresden Theoretical Physics Thesis Prize

Dept. of Physics, Stony Brook University


National Science Foundation

Journal Article

“2-, 3- and 4-Body Decays of the Constructive Standard Model,” N. Christensen, B. Field, A. Moore and S. Pinto, Phys. Rev. D 101, no.6, 065019 (2020), doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.101.065019 [arXiv:1909.09164 [hep-ph]].
“Space-time resolved Breit-Wheeler process for a model system,” Y. Lu, N. Chris- tensen, Q. Su and R. Grobe, Physics Review A101, 022503 (2020).
"Spatial Evolution of Quantum Mechanical States," N. Christensen, J. Unger, S. Pinto, Q. Su and R. Grobe, Annals of Physics 389 (2018) 239-249.
Su, Q., Grobe, R., & Christensen, N. Spatial evolution of quantum mechanical states. Ann. Phys. 389 (2018): 239.
“A First Step Towards Effectively Nonperturbative Scattering Amplitudes in the Perturbative Regime,” N. Christensen, J. Henderson, S. Pinto and C. Russ, Journal of Physics Communication, Volume 2, Number 7 (2018).


Constructing Gravity. Physics Department Collouquium. Department of Physics, Illinois State University. (2019)
The Constructive Standard Model. Phenomenology Group Seminar. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2018)
“The Constructive SM,” N. Christensen, Phenomenology 2018 Symposium, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, May 7, 2018.
“A New Approach to Scattering Amplitudes”, N. Christensen, Phenomenology 2017 Symposium, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, May 9, 2017.
“Algebras in Particle Physics, Part II”, N. Christensen, Algebra Seminar, Department of Mathematics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, October 5, 2017.
“Algebras in Particle Physics, Part I”, N. Christensen, Algebra Seminar, Department of Mathematics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, April 6, 2017.
“S-Matrix without Fields, Part I”, N. Christensen, Algebra Seminar, Department of Mathematics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, October 12, 2017.
“The S-Matrix without Fields,” N. Christensen, High Energy Physics Seminar, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, February 15, 2017.
“Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and the Higgs Boson”, N. Christensen, Physics Seminar, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, December 2, 2015.
Determing the Spin of Dark Matter. Physics Department Colloquium. Illinois State University. (2014)

Grants & Contracts

Samuel P. Langley PITT-PACC Fellowship. PITTsburgh Particle-physics Astro-physics and Cosmology Center (PITT-PACC). Other.