Caleb Levy ’23

Physics; minor in mathematics

I have always had a keen interest in understanding the world around me.

Caleb Levy ’23 Kingston, Jamaica

How did you become involved in research at Colgate?

When I came to Colgate, I knew that I wanted to study physics and do theoretical research, but I had no idea which subfield interested me. I went to a few of the seminars put on by the physics and astronomy department and the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The one that grabbed my attention and had me on the edge of my seat was “Dark Matter in the Universe” by University of Texas–Austin Prof. Katherine Freese, who is an incredible theorist and was the graduate school adviser of my current research advisor, Prof. Cosmin Ilie.

Immediately after the talk, I spoke to Prof. Ilie and asked if he would be willing to give me a chance to research dark matter with him, and he was very welcoming despite my being a first-year. Prof. Ilie recognized the passion I had for physics and was more than willing to give me a chance through a research position the following summer.

Guided by Ilie, Levy used mathematical tools to develop the formalism needed for investigating the role of helium in the capture of dark matter by the first stars. He also employed numerical methods in Python to calculate the effects of annihilation of dark matter captured by a star composed of helium and hydrogen.

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The cover of the Physical Review journal.

Three years later, I have one manuscript, co-authored with Professor Ilie, published in Physical Review D:

C. Ilie and C. Levy. Multicomponent multiscatter capture of dark matter. 2021. Phys. Rev. D 104, 083033.

We also have a manuscript, co-authored with Professor Ilie and two Colgate alumni (Jacob Pilawa ’20 and Saiyang Zhang ’19), that has been accepted at Physical Review D and is being prepared for publication:

C. Ilie, C. Levy, J. Pilawa, and S. Zhang. Constraining Dark Matter properties with the first generation of stars. 2021. (Accepted at Physical Review D). arXiv:2009.11474.

Although our research centered on different goals relating to dark matter capture, I benefited immensely from my interactions with all members of the team as we tackled problems inherent in this type of research.

Tell us more about the mentorship you have received at Colgate.

Prof. Ilie has been my research adviser since the summer following my first year — and a mentor since my first-year fall. I have gained many invaluable insights into the world of physics research and developed lots of skills under his guidance. He believed in my abilities, even when I was in doubt, and he helped nurture my curiosity for physics. I am eternally grateful for his mentorship and would not be here if he hadn’t had faith in me.

A portrait of Caleb.

What advice would you give future Colgate students?

Colgate is a great place to pursue academic research and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, even as a first-year. Colgate’s small size is advantageous in this aspect as it allows for close connections with faculty who will go above and beyond and take a leap of faith with you.

I know it’s hard sometimes, but don’t be afraid to reach out to professors or anyone else about opportunities that interest you, because people here are generally very open to helping you!

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to go to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical physics.

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