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ken read
Ken Read
Professor and UT/ORNL Joint Faculty Member

Experimental Nuclear Physics
Office: 309 Nielsen Physics Building
Phone: (865-974-3027 or 865-574-5347 (ORNL)
Website: and

Brief Vita

Dr. Kenneth F. Read earned a B.S. in physics with honors from Stanford University in 1981, an M.S. from Cornell University in 1984, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1987. He was a postdoctoral research associate and then a research staff member for Princeton University. In 1991 he joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee as an Assistant Professor and also became a research staff member at Oak Ridge National Lab. He presently is an ORNL Distinguished Research Staff member and a UT/ORNL Joint Faculty Professor. His awards include a National Merit Scholarship, the Stanford David Levine Award in physics, an NSF graduate fellowship, the Cornell University Andrew D. White fellowship, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi full membership, and multiple listings in Who's Who. He is a co-author of over 600 published scientific research papers with an average of 100 citations per publication.


Experimental Nuclear Physics: Relativistic Heavy Ion Collisions

My research is primarily concerned with the physics of relativistic heavy ion collisions. This is a subfield of nuclear physics closely related to high energy physics which experimentally explores the properties of a novel state of matter known as the Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP) by colliding heavy ions together at very high energy (TeV per nucleon). We study the detailed properties of this matter which is by far the densest and hottest every created in the lab (over 100,000 times hotter than the core of our sun). The plasma conforms to (relativistic) hydrodynamics more ideally than any other known matter. This study improves our understanding of QCD under extreme conditions, hadronization, and ultimately the nature of the first microseconds of the universe, which may itself have at one stage been a quark gluon plasma.

I was the coordinating physicist responsible for construction and operation of the PHENIX muon identifier subsystem at Broookhaven National Laboratory. More recently, I was the subsystem manager responsible for coordinating the upgrade of the front-end readout electronics for the ALICE TPC at the CERN LHC. I come to this cross-disciplinary field at the border between nuclear and high energy physics with a background in high energy physics and have been involved in experiments at the accelerators located at Stanford University, Cornell University, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and CERN in Geneva.



Dr. Read teaches Physics 573 (Numerical Methods in Physics)/Physics 643 (Computational Physics) for graduate students. This course provides essential training for the research physicist with practical, hands-on, computational solutions to a broad range of modern physics applications. It explores state-of-the-art technical approaches and high-performance computing.

Selected Publications

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