Richard Talaga received a PhD from The University of Chicago (1977) in experimental particle physics. Talaga has focused on the study of weakly interacting particles, such as neutrinos and muons, and the design and construction of detectors to enable his research. He has investigated weak interactions between hadrons and searched for exotic particles in electron-proton collisions. He led Argonne’s team of physicists and engineers to build the NovA neutrino detectors, which are currently taking data and providing new information on neutrino flavor mixing. The NovA experiment is projected to run through 2024. Data from this experiment will help determine the some of the biggest questions in neutrino physics: determination of the neutrino mass ordering and a measurement of the CP violation.
Recently, Talaga has taken on new projects to search for phenomena beyond the Standard Model of particle interactions. Currently he is working building apparatus for the Mu2e experiment, based at Fermilab. This experiment will search for evidence of muon conversion directly to an electron, in the presence of a nucleus. If observed, the conversion process could be mediated by very heavy particles that have not been discovered, directly or indirectly, in any physics experiment. Observation of direct muon-to-electron conversions would provide indirect evidence of the existence of these particles, with masses far beyond the capability of the LHC, the world’s most powerful accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland to produce them directly.