“It's a great honor,” he says when asked how he feels about being named a 2014 fellow. “The Guggenheim Fellowship buys the most precious commodity for a professor --- time to think freely.”
In his research, Feng applies what we know about the laws of nature at the smallest length scales to determine what the Universe is made of. “This field is advancing very rapidly, and it's a great time to have a chance to absorb the latest developments and also possibly to wander a bit off the beaten path,” he says.
Feng was among 178 scholars, artists, and scientists selected from nearly 3,000 candidates from the United States and Canada to receive the fellowship. Additionally, Feng was one of the two physicists selected.
As professor of physics and astronomy, Feng’s research is in particle physics and cosmology. “We know that all the elements of the periodic table make up only about 15% of the matter in the Universe. The other 85% is provisionally called "dark matter," and I'm trying to figure out what it is,” says Feng. “This requires gathering and analyzing information from the biggest particle colliders and the biggest telescopes, which is not easy, but the answer has profound implications for some of our biggest questions, including how the Universe started and where it is going.”
Feng holds degrees in physics and mathematics from Harvard, Cambridge, and Stanford universities. He joined the UC Irvine faculty in 2001, and was appointed Professor and Chancellor's Fellow in 2006. His work has been recognized by several awards, including the NSF CAREER Award, UCI's Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Research, the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the International Association of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers, a Sloan Research Fellowship, and a Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics.