Illuminating Dark Matter

Date & Time


Schloss Elmau
In Elmau 2, 82493 Krün Germany

Rouven Essig, Stony Brook University
Jonathan Feng, UC Irvine
Kathryn Zurek, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The identity of dark matter is one of the great scientific mysteries of our time. The field is currently undergoing a transformation. The odds-on favorites from earlier decades, WIMPs, are still viable, but are becoming increasingly constrained by null results from LHC searches and direct detection. The other classic candidates, sterile neutrinos and axions, are being re-examined and re-imagined, with qualitatively new possibilities emerging. Outstanding puzzles, including the value of anomalous magnetic moment of the muon, the 6.8 sigma anomaly in beryllium decays, the 3.5 keV X-ray line from galaxies, and the distribution of dark matter on galaxy scales, along with theoretical developments, are motivating new classes of candidates.

Particularly interesting are light dark matter particles and dark sectors with masses in the eV to GeV range, which could explain many of these puzzles. Moreover, several mechanisms exist that can naturally generate dark matter with the correct relic abundance in this mass range. The recent years have seen an explosion of new ideas to detect such light dark matter particles. These ideas have often emerged from theoretical physicists thinking across several disciplines — particle physics, condensed matter physics, cosmology, and atomic, molecular, and optical physics — but require expert experimentalists and instrumentalists to sharpen these ideas and bring them to fruition. These developments are allowing physicists to explore vast new regions of dark-matter parameter space.

The Symposium on Illuminating Dark Matter will bring together a diverse group of researchers to take a fresh look at dark matter, beginning with a high-level, critical re-evaluation of the field, its recent progress, and possible alternatives. The goals of the meeting are to stimulate out-of-the-box discussions, explore new ideas, forge ties with other branches of physics, and identify new and promising approaches to identifying dark matter.

  • Agendaplus--large

    A PDF of the agenda may be downloaded here.


    8:00 - 9:30 PMDinner at La Salle


    8:30 - 9:45 AMBreakfast at La Salle
    10:00 - 10:15 AMWelcome and Introductions
    10:15 - 10:45 AMManoj Kaplinghat | Why I think Dark Matter has Large Self-Interactions
    11:00 - 11:30 AMPhil Hopkins | Small Scale Crises: Is there Any Case for Non-Standard Dark Matter Physics?
    11:45 - 12:00 PMBreak
    12:00 -12:30 PMJulio Navarro | The Origin of Empirical Galaxy Relations in LCDM
    12:30 - 1:30 PMLunch at La Salle
    1:30 - 4:30 PMDiscussion & Recreation*
    4:30- 5:00 PMTea
    5:00 - 5:30 PMJo Bovy | Investigating the Small-Scale Structure of Dark Matter Halos with Milky Way Dynamics
    5:45 - 6:15 PMAlyson Brooks | Understanding Dwarf Galaxies in Order to Understand Dark Matter
    6:30 - 6:45 PMBreak
    6:45 - 7:15 PMAaron Chou | Quantum Metrology Techniques for Low Mass Bosonic Dark Matter
    7:15 - 7:45 PMOrganized Discussion
    8:00 - 9:30 PMDinner at Spa Lounge


    8:30 - 9:45 AMBreakfast at La Salle
    10:00 - 10:30 AMRouven Essig | Sub-GeV Dark Matter: Constraints and Prospects
    10:45 - 11:15 AMTomer Volansky | Recent Results from the Light Dark Matter Frontier
    11:30 - 11:45 AMBreak
    11:45 - 12:15 PMJavier Tiffenberg | The SENSEI Experiment
    12:30 - 1:30 PMLunch at La Salle
    1:30 - 4:30 PMDiscussion & Recreation*
    4:30- 5:00 PMTea
    5:00 - 5:30 PMRafael Lang | Xe
    5:45 - 6:15 PMKathryn Zurek | New Ideas in Dark Matter Direct Detection: Dirac Materials, Superfluid Helium, and Polar Crystals
    6:30 - 6:45 PMBreak
    6:45 - 7:15 PMAdam Ritz | Some Direct Detection Signatures of Dark Matter (Well) Below a GeV
    7:15 - 7:45 PMOrganized Discussion
    8:00 - 9:30 PMDinner at Spa Lounge


    7:30 - 9:30 AMBreakfast
    9:45 - 2:00 PMGuided Hike to Partnach Gorge
    2:00 - 3:00 PMLunch at La Salle
    3:00 - 4:30 PMRecreation & Discussion
    4:30 - 5:00 PMTea
    5:00 - 5:30 PMNeal Dalal | Strong Lensing and Small-Scale Structure
    5:45 - 6:15 PMNeal Weiner | Gravitational Lensing and Small-Scale Structure
    6:30 - 7:00 PMBreak
    7:15 - 7:45 PMOrganized Discussion
    8:00 - 9:30 PMDinner at La Salle


    8:30 - 9:45 AMBreakfast at La Salle
    10:00 - 10:30 AMBertrand Echenard | Accelerator Based Approaches to Sub-GeV New Physics
    10:45 - 11:15 AMMauro Raggi | Searching for Light Dark Matter with Positron Beams
    11:30 - 11:45 AMBreak
    11:45 - 12:15 PMJonathan Feng | Lifetime Frontier Experiments at the LHC
    12:30 - 1:30 PMLunch at La Salle
    1:30 - 4:30 PMDiscussion & Recreation*
    4:30- 5:00 PMTea
    5:00 - 5:30 PMBernard Carr | Primordial Black Holes
    5:45 - 6:15 PMAlex Kusenko | Primordial Black Holes: Dark Matter and r-Process Nucleosynthesis
    6:30 - 6:45 PMBreak
    6:45 - 7:15 PMKev Abazajian | Sterile Neutrino Dark Matter: Searches in X-ray Astronomy and Signatures in Galaxy Formation
    7:15 - 8:15 PMDinner at La Salle
    8:30 - 9:30 PMConcert: Maharaj Trio


    8:30 - 9:45 AMBreakfast at La Salle
    10:00 - 10:30 AMJessie Shelton | Dark Radiation Baths and How to Find Them
    10:45 - 11:15 AMJosh Ruderman | 21cm from Dark Photons
    11:30 - 11:45 AMBreak
    11:45 - 12:15 PMRoni Harnik | Models of DM that can be Detected in Neutrino Experiments
    12:30 - 1:30 PMLunch at La Salle
    1:30 - 4:30 PMDiscussion & Recreation*
    4:30- 5:00 PMTea
    5:00 - 7:00 PMOrganized Summary Discussion
    8:00 - 9:30 PMDinner at Kaminstüberl


    SESSIONSFidelio located at Schloss Elmau, 1st Floor
    MEALSLa Salle unless otherwise noted
    TEA & DISCUSSIONFidelio located at Schloss Elmau, 1st Floor
    EXCURSION Meet in Schloss Elmau Lobby
    SATURDAY DEPARTUREMeet in Schloss Elmau Lobby

    *Participants may explore the hotel property and its surrounding areas as well as engage in informal discussion with other participants.


    Participants will have access to a projector and screen for computer-based talks and blackboards for those who prefer to give board-based talks.

    High-speed Internet access is available.

    Wednesday Excursion

    On Wednesday symposium activities are shortened for a guided hiking tour from Schloss-Elmau through the Partnach Gorge. The hike difficulty is moderate and will take approximately 3 hours.

    If you will participate in the hike, hiking boots or shoes appropriate for traversing rocky/wet terrain, warm clothing (e.g. a sweater), sun protection (e.g. light cap) and waterproofs (e.g. raincoat or umbrella) are strongly recommended.

    A small satchel containing a light snack and water is provided, but feel free to bring your own backpack in which to carry a camera and other items that may be useful to you.

    Dress Code

    Business casual clothing should be worn during the symposium.

    The weather can change very quickly; please bring warm-weather clothing appropriate for spring in the mountains.

  • Participantsplus--large
    Kevork AbazajianUC Irvine
    Jo BovyUniversity of Toronto
    Alyson BrooksRutgers University
    Bernard CarrQueen Mary, University of London
    Aaron ChouFermilab
    Neal DalalUniversity of Illinois
    Bertrand EchenardCalifornia Institute of Technology
    Rouven EssigStony Brook University
    Jonathan FengUC Irvine
    Roni HarnikFermilab
    Phil HopkinsCalifornia Institute of Technology
    Manoj KaplinghatUC Irvine
    Alex KusenkoUCLA
    Rafael LangPurdue University
    Julio NavarroUniversity of Victoria
    Mauro RaggiRome La Sapienza
    Adam RitzUniversity of Victoria
    Joshua RudermanNew York University
    Jessie SheltonUniversity of Illinois
    Javier TiffenbergFermi National Accelerator Laboratory
    Tomer VolanskyTel Aviv University
    Neal WeinerNew York University
    Kathryn ZurekLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    A PDF of the participant list may be downloaded here.

  • Travelplus--large


    The foundation will coordinate and purchase air and train travel to the symposium. Travel specifications can be provided by clicking the registration link above.

    Participants arriving via plane will arrive via Munich International Airport (MUC) Airport.


    The closet train station to Schloss Elmau is in Klais. Those traveling by train should book their tickets directly and request reimbursement at the conclusion of the meeting. Should you require booking assistance, please contact Meghan Fazzi.

    All participants are required to arrive on Sunday prior to the meeting’s start and attend the entire week. No accommodations will be made for partial participation.


    Passports are required.

    Local Ground Transportation

    Arrival at Munich International Airport

    The foundation will arrange for your transfer from MUC airport to Schloss Elmau via a private car. After claiming your luggage at baggage claim you will proceed through customs and to the exit where a uniformed driver holding a Simons Symposia sign will greet you.

    Travel time from Munich to Schloss Elmau is 90 minutes.

    Arrival at Klais Train Station

    The foundation will arrange for your transfer from Klais train station to Schloss Elmau via a hotel shuttle.

    Travel time from Kalis to Elmau is approximately 10 minutes.

    Departure from Schloss Elmau

    The day prior to your departure you will receive a departure letter advising on your departure time to the airport or train station via private car. Please meet your driver in the hotel lobby ten minutes prior to your noted departure time. If for any reason your flight departure time changes, please visit the front desk to update hotel staff.

  • Hotelplus--large

    Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway

    In Elmau 2, 82493 Krün
    Tel: +49 (0) 8823 18-0

    Check-in time is at 4:30 PM
    Check-out time is 11:30 AM

    Additional Night at Elmau

    The meeting concludes on Friday evening. Participants have the option to depart on Saturday following the conclusion of the meeting or depart on Sunday at no additional cost. Please note your desired departure date when registering.

  • Mealsplus--large

    Sunday and Saturday: Meals on arrival and departure days (including while traveling) are reimbursable by the foundation. Your meals on these days are not to exceed $115 USD.

    Monday through Friday: All meals occurring during the meeting week will be covered directly by the Simons Foundation. Participants are expected to be present for all foundation-hosted meals.

    Breakfast is served starting at 7:30 AM at La Salle restaurant. Food at La Salle is served buffet-style and is open to all hotel guests; tables are reserved for all symposium participants so that the group may dine together.

    Lunch is served daily at La Salle.

    Dinner is hosted around the hotel property at one of the restaurants. Locations are noted on the agenda.

  • Contactsplus--large

    Registration and Travel Assistance

    Elise Volpe, Protravel

    Meeting Questions and Assistance

    Meghan Fazzi
    Senior Executive Assistant, Simons Foundation
    (212) 524-6080

  • Reimbursement and Travel Policyplus--large


    Any expenses not directly paid for by the Simons Foundation are subject to reimbursement based on the travel policy. Please review the policy and complete when submitting your expenses. Receipts are required for any expenses over $50 USD and are due within THIRTY DAYS (30) after the conclusion of the symposium. All expenses are reconciled through the foundation’s online reimbursement platform. Additional information regarding reimbursement is sent via email on the final day of the symposium.

    Should you have any questions, please contact Meghan Fazzi.

    Guest Policy

    It is the foundation’s policy to discourage spouses, families or others from joining participants during the meeting. Participants who choose to invite guests to come before or stay on after the meeting do so at their own expense. The Simons Foundation will not cover expenses associated with such extensions.

    Additional Nights

    Should you decide to extend your stay, Schloss Elmau will honor the conference rate of €337.50/night for up to two nights. Any nights beyond those associated with the conference are not reimbursable by the foundation.

    Please note on your registration form if you wish to extend your stay.

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