Robert G. Leigh

Robert G. Leigh
Robert G. Leigh
 Rob Leigh
Rob Leigh
  • Professor
(217) 721-4781
431 Loomis Laboratory


  • Ph.D., Physics, University of Texas at Austin, 1991


Professor Rob Leigh received his bachelor's degree in theoretical physics from the University of Guelph in 1986, and his PhD in theoretical particle physics, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991. He held postdoctoral research appointments at the Institute for Particle Physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at Rutgers University. He joined the Department of Physics at Illinois in 1996. He has done outstanding work in string theory, supersymmetric field theory, and other topics in particle physics and early Universe cosmology. Professor Leigh's work lies at the heart of current efforts to build a fundamental theory of matter, including quantum gravity effects.

In his first papers, Professor Leigh discovered D-branes and orientifolds in string theory and the first example of superstring duality, and derived the Dirac-Born-Infeld action describing the dynamics of D-branes. D-branes correspond to non-perturbative states unique to string theory and are analogous to magnetic monopoles in field theory. The study of D-branes is fundamental to modern string theory and its applications to particle physics, mathematics and condensed matter physics.

Professor Leigh has also done seminal work on the existence of conformal field theories, and the use of intersecting branes and branes at singularities in particle physics model building. His current research interests include the application of holographic string theory methods to study particle physics, gravity and condensed matter physics.

Research Statement

Primarily, we use gauge/gravity dualities (or holography) to study the physics of strongly coupled gauge theories and, increasingly, the strong coupling dynamics in condensed matter systems.

Selected Articles in Journals

Research Honors

  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 2007
  • Arnold O. Beckman Award, UIUC, December 2004
  • Outstanding Junior Investigator, DOE, 1997-2000

Recent Courses Taught

  • PHYS 580 - Quantum Mechanics I
  • PHYS 581 - Quantum Mechanics II
  • PHYS 582 - General Field Theory
  • PHYS 583 - Advanced Field Theory
  • PHYS 598 ADS - AdS/QFT Correspondence
  • PHYS 598 QFT - Special Topics in Physics