Jonathan Heckman

Assistant Professor
DRL 4N45
(215) 573-9070
  • Assistant Professor at Penn: 2017 - Present
  • Assistant Professor at UNC Chapel Hill: 2014 - 2017




Ph.D. Harvard 2009 

A.M. Harvard 2005

A.B. Princeton 2004

Research Interests: 

My research centers on theoretical high energy physics. The broad questions my work aims to address are:

What is quantum field theory, and what are its limitations as a tool in describing Nature? 

What are the building blocks of matter and spacetime?

String theory provides a potential answer as an approach to unifying quantum theory with gravity.

Specific research topics of interest include:

F-theory GUTs: With collaborators, I have introduced a new approach to constructing Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) via compactifications of F-theory, a strongly coupled phase of string theory. This combines the merits of intersecting brane models and exceptional group structures in a single framework. This also includes top down models of flavor physics, along with a prediction for the neutrino mixing angle theta_{13} in 2009, which has since been confirmed by experiment.

6D SCFTs: With collaborators, I have also developed a systematic framework for constructing higher-dimensional conformal field theories via compactifications of F-theory. Six-dimensional superconformal field theories (6D SCFTs) are the "master theories" for many lower-dimensional strong coupling phenomena and dualities. My work has shown that all known 6D SCFTs resemble gauge theories coupled to generalizations of quarks and leptons known as "conformal matter," which are themselves strongly coupled SCFTs.

Currently, my efforts are concentrated in three directions. The first concerns the study of formal and phenomenological aspects of string compactification, and in particular F-theory. The second concerns conceptual questions connected with the embedding of field theoretic UV cutoffs in string theory. The third concerns the study of six-dimensional superconformal field theories.

Selected Publications: 

J.J. Heckman and L. Tizzano, "6D Fractional Quantum Hall Effect,'' hep-th/1708.02250.


F. Apruzzi, F. Hassler, J.J. Heckman, and I.V. Melnikov, "From 6D SCFTs to Dynamic GLSMs,'' hep-th/1610.00718.


M. Del Zotto, J.J. Heckman, P. Kumar, A. Malekian, and B. Wecht, "Kinetic Mixing at Strong Coupling,'' Phys. Rev. D95 016007 (2017) hep-ph/1608.06635.


F. Apruzzi, F. Hassler, J.J. Heckman, and I.V. Melnikov, "UV Completions for Non-Critical Strings,'' JHEP 07 045 (2016) hep-th/1602.04221.


J.J. Heckman, "750 GeV Diphotons from a D3-brane,'' Nucl. Phys. B906 231-240 (2016) hep-th/1512.06773.


J.J. Heckman, D.R. Morrison, T. Rudelius, and C. Vafa, "Atomic Classification of 6D SCFTs,'' Fortsch. Phys. 63 468-530 (2015) hep-th/1502.05405.


J.J. Heckman, D.R. Morrison, and C. Vafa, "On the Classification of 6D SCFTs and Generalized ADE Orbifolds,'' JHEP 05 028 (2014) hep-th/1312.5746.


J.J. Heckman, "Particle Physics Implications of F-Theory,'' Ann. Rev. Nuc. Part. Sci. 60 237 (2010) hep-th/1001.0577.


C. Beasley, J.J. Heckman, and C. Vafa, "GUTs and Exceptional Branes in F-theory - II: Experimental Predictions,'' JHEP 01 059 (2009) hep-th/0806.0102.


C. Beasley, J.J. Heckman, and C. Vafa, "GUTs and Exceptional Branes in F-theory - I,'' JHEP 01 058 (2009) hep-th/0802.3391.