Professor Kirkby's current research activities are focused on observational cosmology with the LSST and BOSS collaborations. He previously worked in experimental particle physics with the BABAR collaboration.
BABAR is an experiment designed primarily to study bound states of b quarks, called B mesons, produced in electron positron collisions by the PEP-II storage ring. The experiment is located at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), in Menlo Park, California. The BABAR collaboration consists of about 600 physicists from 12 countries. The main motivation for the BABAR experiment is to study subtle differences between the roles of matter and antimatter in B meson decays, and possibly shed light on the question of why the universe contains essentially no antimatter today.
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a proposed ground-based 8.4-meter, 10 square-degree-field telescope that will provide digital imaging of faint astronomical objects across the entire sky, night after night. In a relentless campaign of 15 second exposures, LSST will cover the available sky every three nights, opening a movie-like window on objects that change or move on rapid timescales: exploding supernovae, potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids, and distant Kuiper Belt Objects. The superb images from the LSST will also be used to trace billions of remote galaxies and measure the distortions in their shapes produced by lumps of Dark Matter, providing multiple tests of the mysterious Dark Energy.
The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) is one of four proposed surveys for a third phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-3). BOSS will map the spatial distribution of luminous galaxies and quasars to measure the characteristic length scale imprinted by baryon acoustic oscillations in the early universe to new precision. The resulting calibrated ruler will allow theories of dark energy and the origin of cosmic acceleration to be tested more precisely.
Professor Kirkby has received the Department of Energy's Outstanding Junior Investigator Award (2002) and a Sloan Research Fellowship (2003) for work on the BABAR experiment. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2007 and was a 2007 National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers Fellow.
Professor Kirkby has received the campus Instructional Technology Award (2004), the campus Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Teaching (2004) and the department award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education (2008).