An experimental cosmologist, Bradford Benson investigates structure formation in the universe to discover the characteristics of dark matter, dark radiation and dark energy. He helped develop and install the third-generation camera of the South Pole Telescope; this microwave camera tracks the cosmic microwave background—light left over from the Big Bang—to make more precise maps of the very early universe. Additionally, Benson uses data from the South Pole Telescope to pinpoint the mass of the neutrino, the most abundant particle in the universe. The data he has gathered suggest that dark energy could be the manifestation of Einstein’s cosmological constant, a term used to describe energy found in empty space.
Assoc. Prof. Benson, who is also a scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, specializes in microwave detectors, cryogenics, low-noise electronics and statistical data analysis. His honors include being a co-recipient of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for his work as part of the Event Horizon Telescope team, which captured the first image of a supermassive black hole.