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Alexey Petrov

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Alexey Petrov

I am a professor of physics at Wayne State University in Detroit. I am a theorist, which means that the equipment that I get to work with consists of my computer, a pen, and a paper pad. My recent research interests include flavor physics (in particular, decays and oscillations of beauty and charm mesons), effective field theories, and astrophysics.

I was born in St. Petersburg (Russia). Coming from a family of engineers, I wanted to be an engineer too. It all changed in high school, when professors from St. Petersburg Polytechnical University gave us a series of lectures on what fantastic things experimental physicists do at CERN and other labs. I passed my entrance exams and joined Polytech with an idea to become an experimentalist in elementary particle physics. Yet, the more I learned about particle physics, the more I realized that it was particle theory that I was interested in doing. This realization was further strengthened when I was selected to go to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for an exchange program.

I came back to UMass for a graduate school a year later. There, for four years, I was working on phenomenology of decays of heavy mesons and CP-violation. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the direction of John Donoghue in 1997. An interesting story happened a year before I graduated. One day, my wife (an engineering student at the time), a couple of friends of mine and I decided to drive to Washington, D.C., to visit its wonderful museums. On the way there I saw a direction sign to Baltimore and suggested to make a stop to see what the city looks like. “No way,” I was told, “There is absolutely nothing to see there!!!” Surely enough, a year later I got a job offer and joined Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Despite my friends’ conclusions, we loved Baltimore! I spent three happy years there studying effective field theories and flavor physics before moving to Cornell University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.

Ithaca, where Cornell is located, is a small beautiful town in the New York’s Finger Lake region, with gorgeous parks and almost no industry. So, it was a pleasant surprise for my wife and I when she got an offer from a local engineering company right in the city. She was told that “the position opened suddenly, as the engineer who was there before quit to move to Detroit to work in one of the automotive companies.” “They must have offered him a lot of money,” she was told, “Indeed, who in their right mind would move to Detroit!” Surely enough, a year later I got an offer to join Wayne State University in Detroit as an Assistant Professor. So we moved to Michigan!

At WSU, I continue to work on effective field theories of charm and bottom quarks, but also branched out to astrophysics. I collaborate with local researchers at Wayne but also work with professors at the nearby University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where I am an Associate Member of Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics. Besides physics research, I enjoy teaching. While both my wife Tanya and I are busy with work, we love to travel. Our kids Anna and Danil, who were born in Michigan, share our love for travel as well.

I hope you will find my blog interesting, educational and entertaining!