Prof. Burchat grew up in a very large family in a very small town in Canada. She is passionate about teaching and instilling enthusiasm for science in her students. At Stanford, she has received the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is past-Chair of the National Organizing Committee for the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics.
Professor Burchat's research interests focus on fundamental questions in physics: What is the Universe made of? What are the laws of physics that govern the constituents of the Universe? She is interested in studying the Universe at both the smallest and the largest scales. She has used accelerators to probe the elementary particles and the fundamental interactions; her current focus is on using astronomical images to investigate the cosmological evolution of the Universe.
Prof. Burchat is a member of an international collaboration preparing for operation of Vera C. Rubin Observatory, a telescope project that will provide the most complete census of the Universe to date -- the Legacy Survey of Space & Time (LSST). Rubin Observatory is under construction in Chile and is scheduled to see “first light” around 2022. Prof. Burchat's group works within the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) to prepare to fully optimize the use of the gravitational bending of light by "dark matter" to study the evolution of "dark energy". Burchat has served as Deputy Spokesperson of the DESC and currently serves as Technical Coordinator. In the past, she worked with colleagues at Stanford to measure the masses of giant clusters of galaxies using images from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.
Over her career, Burchat has been a key player in a number of accelerator-based particle physics experiments: Mark II at the SLAC Linear Collider, E791 at Fermilab, and BABAR at SLAC. Each of these experiments probed the fundamental interactions, especially the “weak” interaction. The research of Burchat's group in these experiments included pioneering studies of the neutral carrier of the weak interaction (the Z0), searches for heavy neutral leptons, precision studies of semileptonic decays of charm mesons, searches for and discovery of charm mixing, and detailed studies of differences in the way matter and antimatter evolve in time (CP violation in B meson decays).
A theme in Burchat's research has been understanding physical, instrumental, and statistical effects that impact precision measurements of fundamental physics so that the measurements are accurate as well as precise.