Patrick Fitzpatrick began scientific research as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, where he focused on observational and computational astrophysics. During his PhD at MIT, he became interested in the intersection of astrophysics and high energy theoretical physics, focusing on cosmic inflation and dark matter.
A period of cosmic inflation, which occurs a small fraction of a second after the Big Bang, during which space grows exponentially with time, successfully explains a number of fundamental observations about our universe which would otherwise be problems in Standard Big Bang cosmology. However, a possible remaining problem with cosmic inflation is that only very specific initial conditions may be required for it to begin. Dr. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues are investigating this problem.
The nature of dark matter, which comprises 85% of the matter in the universe, remains unknown after several decades of work. Patrick and his colleagues are exploring possible scenarios in which dark matter interacts in ways that have distinct experimental consequences which can reveal its nature. They are also exploring the possible cosmological histories dark matter can have which would provide targets for future experimental searches.