Cecilia Levy

Cecilia Levy

Assistant Professor of Physics


Physics 209
  • BSc Universite de Montreal, Canada
  • MSc Queen's University, Canada on the PICASSO dark matter experiment
  • PhD University of Muenster, Germany on the XENON100 dark matter experiment
  • Postdoc RPI on the XENON1T dark matter experiment
  • Postdoc SUNY Albany on the LUX/LZ dark matter experiment
Cecilia Levy

Current Research

My primary research interest is in astroparticle physics, more specifically, I contribute to the ongoing effort to directly discover dark matter, an elusive particle which makes up 25% of the universe.

I am part of the LZ experiment, a 7-ton detector which should be turning on in 2020. This will be the biggest dark matter detector ever conceived with a truly good discovery potential. I am particularly interested in the cleanliness aspect of LZ, which is of paramount importance if we hope to see a dark matter signal. My group played a crucial role in the assembly and cleaning of the detector, as well as in the writing of our paper on our cleanliness campaign. Members of my group are now very involved in coordinating proper deployment of our calibration systems, and in various data analysis, particularly in the identification of our so-called 206Pb wall background.

Students on LZ in my group are expected to be involved in all stages of LZ, simulations, building, commissioning, maintenance and data analysis, giving them a unique opportunity to see the many development stages of a successful and large-scale experiment. They are also expected to travel regularly and sometimes for extended periods of time to the SURF underground laboratory in South Dakota to get hands-on experience on LZ, as well as to other national labs, like SLAC or LBNL, depending on the needs of the experiment. 

In addition, because of the lack of discovery, new parameter space has opened up for the search of dark matter, particularly at low masses. The UAlbany dark matter group has developed a new technology based on supercooled water, dubbed The Snowball Chamber, that could potentially probe low mass dark matter. Developing the Snowball Chamber is therefore the second focus of my research, and my students are directly involved in making this new technology a viable option for a dark matter search. They profit from the opportunity to build a small scale experiment from scratch, from design to assembly, to electronics, data acquisition system, and data analysis and truly lead the research in that area, since this is a research topic completely unique to the UAlbany dark matter group.

Teaching Philosophy

My immediate teaching interest is in freshman and sophomore core physics classes. This is very important to me as these classes are the foundation for a student's success in the physics program. In addition, a thorough comprehension of these core classes is crucial for a student to be able to understand more advanced and specialized courses. My teaching philosophy is that I am here as much to teach as to help the students, therefore I try to be as adaptive and as approachable as possible in order to give my students the best chance of success. Starting Spring 2021, I am really excited to be able to offer a senior undergraduate/ graduate class on the physics of radiation detectors, which will be useful to many students in many different fields of physics. 


  • D. Akerib et al., LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) Projected WIMP sensitivity of the LZ experiment, Phys. Rev. D 101, 052002 (2020) https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.06039
  • D. Akerib et al., (LZ) The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) Experiment 10.1016/j.nima.2019.163047 (2019)
  • Szydagis, Knight, Levy The Snowball chamber: neutron induced nucleation in supercooled water https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.09253 (2018)
  • D. Akerib et al., LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) Technical Design Report,  (2017) https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.09144
  • C. Levy et al, Xenon Bubble Chambers for Direct Dark Matter Detection, JINST no. 03, C03003 (2016)
  • E. Aprile et al. (XENON100), XENON100 Dark Matter Results from a Combination of 477 Live Days Phys. Rev. D 94, 122001 (2016) https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.06154
  • E. Aprile et al. (XENON100), Search for Two-Neutrino Double Electron Capture of 124Xe with XENON100, arXiv preprint arXiv:1609.03354 (2016)
  • E. Aprile et al. (XENON1T), Physics Reach of the XENON1T Dark Matter Experiment, JCAP 1604 no.04, 027 (2016)
  • E. Aprile et al. (XENON100), Search for event rate modulation in XENON100 electronic recoil data, Physical review letters 115 (9), 091302 (2015)
  • E. Aprile et al. (XENON100), Exclusion of leptophilic dark matter models using XENON100 electronic recoil data, Science 349 (6250), 851-854 (2015)
  • E. Aprile et al. (XENON100), First Axion Results from the XENON100 Experiment, Phys. Rev. D 90, 062009 (2014)
  • V. Zacek et al. (PICASSO), New Insights into Particle Detection with Superheated Liquids, New J.Phys.13:043006 (2011)