Position: Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics, The University of Auckland.
Field: Particle physics.
Dr David Krofcheck is a Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Auckland. His main interests are in particle physics and environmental radiation.
David’s passion for science developed at the age of 11 years after reading The Universe by Isaac Asimov. The close proximity of disused rock quarries to his home in the US allowed him to hunt for fossils. This, in turn, sparked an interest in the age of the earth and led to questions such as, “How did it all begin?” and “Where did atoms come from?”
As an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, USA, David joined a particle physics research team. This led to a developing interest in particle physics culminating in a PhD in Physics from Ohio State University. Postdoctoral work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory followed. On meeting his future wife, a New Zealand citizen, he decided to move to New Zealand, and he took up his current position at the University of Auckland in 1995.
Barely scratching the surface
David’s fascination about the nuclear and particle physics field is borne out of his belief that the universe “is really just a strange place”. He is of the opinion that “we are barely scratching the surface of the universe of ideas and knowledge”.
The University of Auckland is a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment to be run in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva in 2009. The CMS group, which is a collaboration involving over 2,000 physicists from 150 institutes based in 37 countries, will examine the dynamics of collisions between counter-rotating beams of protons and, later on, beams of lead nuclei. David is Auckland’s lead researcher in this experiment.
We are barely scratching the surface of the universe of ideas and knowledge.
The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator. The counter-rotating beams of protons can be accelerated to energy levels comparable to those that existed in the first few milliseconds of the Big Bang. By carefully analysing the results of these collisions, current theories about nuclear forces and the subatomic particle sets that make up the nucleus can be validated.
This 2022 RNZ article and audio looks at What's the deal with nuclear power in Aotearoa – the pros and the cons, it includes an interivew with Dr David Krofcheck.
Listen to this 2012 RNZ inteview with David, on elementary particles, smashing atoms and how he got New Zealand involved in the world's biggest scientific experiment – the Large Hadron Collider.
Watch David's Ted talk about the Higgs boson discovery and the Kiwi connection.
This article is based on information current in 2009 and 2018.