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Spencer Klein

nuclear physicist: Nuclear Science Division

Paul Preuss, 510-486-6249,


Spencer Klein’s research focuses on detection of high-energy neutrinos from astrophysical sources, which may include exploding stars (supernovae), galaxies with supermassive black holes at their center, or the collisions of neutron stars with black holes. His expertise focuses on high-energy astrophysics, nuclear physics, and particle physics. He has travelled to Antarctica twice, where he led a 2009 expedition to deploy the first prototype station for the ARIANNA neutrino radio detector on the Ross Ice Shelf, and he is also knowledgeable about other areas of Antarctic science.

Klein works on two projects to instrument large volumes of the Antarctic ice with optical or radio detectors to observe radiation emitted in neutrino interactions. The first, the recently completed IceCube neutrino observatory, is a one-cubic-kilometer neutrino detector located at the South Pole. The second is ARIANNA, a proposed 100-cubic-kilometer detector to be located about 20 kilometers off the coast of Antarctica on the 570-meter thick Ross Ice Shelf.

Klein is Deputy Division Director and a senior scientist in the Nuclear Science Division. He holds a joint appointment at UC Berkeley as a research physicist and Exceptional PI (Principal Investigator).

Recent research

The emphasis of Klein's work with the IceCube neutrino telescope group is on developing algorithms to select and reconstruct candidate electron-neutrino events, and on electromagnetic phenomena present in high energy electron neutrino interactions. He also studies the production of muons in cosmic-ray air showers. His interest in heavy-ion physics concentrates on ultra-peripheral collisions of relativistic nuclei, which probe a wide range of physics topics.

Recent Publications

“Astronomy and Astrophysics with Neutrinos, ” by Francis Halzen and Spencer Klein, Physics Today, May 2008, vol 61, p 61N5

“The Polar Particle Hunter, ” by Spencer R. Klein, IEEE Spectrum, Feb. 2011, p 42   

“IceCube: An Instrument for Neutrino Astronomy, ” Francis Halzen and Spencer Klein, Review of Scientific Instruments, vol 81 (2010), 08110

Visit Klein’s blog about neutrinos and the Antarctic at

Awards and Memberships

Fellow, American Physical Society  (APS)

Member, APS Topical Group on Hadron Physics Program Committee, 2010 to present

Consultant to the Particle Data Group on electromagnetic interactions, 2000 to present.

Chair, IceCube Publications Committee, 2007 to 2010

Organizing Committee, Workshop on “Photoproduction at Collider Energies: from RHIC and HERA to the LHC, " European Center for Nuclear Physics, Trento, Italy, 2007

Organizer, Town Meeting on “Neutrinos, Neutrons and Fundamental Symmetries" and parallel session on “Dark Matter in Nuclear Physics, " plus lead writer of white paper, 2007

Co-convenor, STAR Ultra-Peripheral Collisions Working Group, 1997-2000; 2002-2007

Nominating Committee, American Physical Society Topical Group on Hadron Physics, 2006 election

International Organizing Committee, “From Colliders to Cosmic Rays, " Prague, 2005

Referee for Physical Review, Physics Reports, Physics Letters, Nuclear Instruments and Methods, Journal of Physics G  and IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science

In the News

“The hunt for Neutrinos in the Antarctic,” The Observer (London), Jan. 23, 2011

“A Science Experiment in South Pole Ice Searches for Clues About Dark Matter,” Popular Science Magazine, Dec. 6, 2010

“Berkeley Lab Scientists at the South Pole Work to Collect Astronomical Data,” The Daily Cal, Jan. 26, 2011

“Into the Ice: Completing the IceCube Neutrino Observatory,”, Dec. 20, 2010

 “Tuning into Neutrinos,” The Antarctic Sun, March 26, 2010 

“The world’s biggest IceCube is ready for action,” CERN Courier, Feb., 2011 

“Searching for Physics Down Below,” CERN Courier, July, 2007


University of California at San Diego, physics, history, B.S. 1981

Stanford University, physics, Ph.D. 1988

Research assistant professor and research associate, Boston University, and postgraduate researcher, University of California at Santa Cruz


Spencer Klein defines neutrino astronomy in under one minute.

last updated: 2013-10-23 14:00:18