Elizabeth Beise


My area of research is experimental nuclear physics. My undergraduate degree is from Carleton College in Northfield, MN,and I received my doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, and I’m now on the faculty at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD after a few years of postdoctoral research at Caltech in Pasadena, CA.

Most of my professional work has been using electron scattering to probe the interior of protons, neutrons, and light nuclei. The overarching goal is to better understand how quarks and gluons combine via the strong force to form what makes up the vast majority of the visible matter of the universe. Electron scattering works very much like a microscope, allowing us to construct spatial distributions of charge, magnetism, and currents inside the nucleon. Today, most of this work is done at Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News, Virginia, where there is a 6 GeV polarized electron beam and three experimental halls in which to work. The collaborations are typically 50-100 people, from many countries, and the experiments typically take about 5 years to complete. Jefferson Lab is about to undergo an upgrade to double its energy, to 12 GeV, and to add another experimental hall. More details about the program and the upgrade can be found on the JLab web site .

Like many women in physics, I’m also married to a physicist. My husband, Tom Gentile, works in the Physics Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. Among its many facilities, NIST has a nuclear reactor which is used to produce very slow (or “cold” neutrons) that can be used for a wide variety of applications, including the study of magnetic materials. There is also a dedicated program to carry out precision measurements of fundamental symmetries of nature through neutron beta decay.

In our spare time, we enjoy biking and hiking in the area, gardening, and traveling out west.