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Phil Richerme

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Phil Richerme

As a kid, I used to wake up early on Sunday mornings to design and build enormous cities constructed of LEGOs and popsicle sticks. Twenty years later, my Sunday mornings have changed very little. Of course now, my building materials are titanium, fiberglass, and superconducting wire, and the end result is of much greater interest to science and humanity.

I'm a Harvard University graduate student in the ATRAP antihydrogen collaboration, spending the last two years of my Ph.D. working at CERN. In the spring of 2010, the next-generation antihydrogen experiment and I were shipped to Geneva; we hope it will allow us to realize our goal of performing spectroscopy on large numbers of trapped antihydrogen atoms, giving the most stringent test of CPT symmetry in baryon and lepton systems. Personally, I find it incomparably satisfying to run experiments, take data, and publish results using the apparatus I've helped build over the previous few years.

I came to Harvard in 2006 after completing my undergrad at MIT. My decision to pursue experimental physics solidified in my junior year, thanks to a stimulating year-long lab course recreating classic physics experiments, as well as a spectacular experience working as an undergraduate lab assistant. I am fortunate to have had so many supportive and knowledgeable grad students, postdocs, and professors at this stage in my career, and hope to return the favor to future generations of physics students.

Living on the French-Swiss border means I get to enjoy the fantastic bread, cheese, and chocolate, as well as easy access to both mountains and opera houses. Hiking, classical music, and traveling are all passions of mine outside of physics. I also like thinking intellectually about nearly any subject, and issues surrounding the mind, education, and learning are perennial favorites.

My wonderful wife, Lauren, is pursuing her Ph.D. in music education. She is always willing to discuss and challenge new ideas with me, and always ready for an adventure (we’ve recently spent a month backpacking across New Zealand). I enjoy viewing the world through the lens of a physicist; I feel that we have a unique way of approaching and understanding the world, and am happy to be in the company of other Quantum Diarists who enjoy sharing their thoughts, passions, and work.