Watch: Suzanne Staggs and the Signatures of the Primordial Universe

Suzanne Staggs, a physicist at Princeton University and founding member of the Simons Observatory, describes what cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation can reveal about the early universe.

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Suzanne Staggs is currently the Henry deWolf Smyth Professor of Physics at Princeton University, after having served as a Hubble Fellow at the University of Chicago for two years. She is a founding member of the Simons Observatory. Staggs received her Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1993, and her B.A. in physics from Rice University in 1987. She is currently on the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Staggs’ research focus is the experimental study of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, including precise measurements of its electromagnetic spectrum and thus its blackbody temperature, and exploration of its polarization properties and fine-scale angular anisotropies. Her present CMB work focuses on searching for the signature in the CMB polarization of gravity waves from an inflationary epoch in the primordial universe, and in using the CMB as a backlight to probe the growth of gravitationally bound structures in the last 13 billion years. This growth depends on such fundamental quantities as the nature of dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.