Associate Dean in the Graduate School and
Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Dr. Kirsten Tollefson is an Associate Dean in the Graduate School and a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Prior to joining the Graduate School she served as the Graduate Program Director and Associate Chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy where she worked to improve diversity within the physics graduate program. In the Graduate School she coordinates the University recruitment fellowship programs and National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). She is passionate about promoting initiatives that lead to more effective mentoring using evidence-based best practices. She was selected to be a Fellow of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Academic Leadership Program (ALP) in 2020-2021.
Tollefson is a high-energy physicist whose research focuses on studying the fundamental particle nature of the universe. She was part of the team on the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) experiment that discovered the top quark and then spent many years studying its unique properties with CDF as well as on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Her current research focuses on searches for dark matter and multi-messenger particle astrophysics using 2 experiments: the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma Ray Observatory in Mexico and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole. She is also a member of the Southern Wide-field-of-view Gamma-ray Observatory (SWGO) collaboration that is hoping to build a new detector in South America in the near future. She served as a topical convener for the Cosmic Frontier report that was part of the U.S. high-energy physicists' decadal priority setting exercise called Snowmass.