Kevin Zhou

Physics graduate student

Stanford University


I’m a graduate student interested in particle phenomenology and physics education. I spent two years in the UK as a Marshall scholar, and am currently beginning a PhD at Stanford in 2019 funded by an NSF Graduate Research fellowship. A complete CV is available here.

I got started by devouring the scifi section of my local public library, but it wasn’t until watching Particle Fever in college that I knew what I wanted to be. I find nothing more thrilling than the process of scientific discovery, whether it’s the “aha!” moment of a single student or the collective effort of the entire physics community, and I hope to be a lifelong participant as a professor of physics.


  • Beyond the Standard Model
  • Dark matter
  • Precision experiments


  • PhD (in progress)


  • MSc MTP, 2019


  • MASt in Mathematics, 2018


  • BSc in Physics and Mathematics, 2017



Axion Dark Matter Detection by Superconducting Resonant Frequency Conversion

We propose an approach to search for axion dark matter with a superconducting radio frequency cavity, using axion-induced transitions between nearly degenerate resonant modes of frequency $\sim \text{GHz}$.

Generalized Fragmentation Functions for Fractal Jet Observables

We introduce a broad class of fractal jet observables that recursively probe the collective properties of hadrons produced in jet fragmentation.

Casimir Meets Poisson: Improved Quark/Gluon Discrimination with Counting Observables

We introduce new IRC-safe counting observables whose discrimination performance exceeds that of jet mass and approaches that of track multiplicity.

Minimum Energetic Cost to Maintain a Target Nonequilibrium State

We use the stochastic thermodynamics of Markov jump processes to compute the minimum rate at which energy must be supplied and dissipated to maintain an arbitrary nonequilibrium distribution in a given energy landscape.

Lecture Notes

These are the notes I’ve taken while learning physics. They’re very compact and don’t usually correspond closely with any particular course; instead they’re packed full of all the neat things I’ve found reading books. Currently they weigh in at 1,800 pages and 700,000 words.


These notes summarize foundational material. They roughly cover both the MIT undergraduate sequence and Part I and II of the Cambridge physics sequence.


These notes give a little bit of background on a wide variety of fields, and are aimed at the late undergraduate level.


These notes focus on my own field of particle physics, following courses taught at Cambridge’s Part III and Oxford’s MMathPhys.


I offer tutoring for the USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) and the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO). I competed at the IPhO in 2012 and 2013 and taught at the US Physics Team training camp in 2015–2017 and 2019.

The tutoring program is designed for students aiming for gold medals at the USAPhO or IPhO. During the training, students receive weekly handouts with about 30 questions, which are discussed at an online meeting. At the end of the year, there are also several graded practice USAPhOs and review sessions. The learning is self-driven: instead of having me lecture at you, you’ll try the problems and we’ll discuss your attempts and solutions.

The full curriculum is about 30 weeks long, though students can choose any subset or order they wish. The typical time commitment is 8–12 hours per week. For details, see the syllabus.

The tutoring program is pitched at a high level; for context, see the problem sets for Mechanics IV and Electromagnetism V. I expect students to be comfortable with calculus-based physics and with qualifying for the USAPhO. For more introductory training, you can ask me to refer you to another tutor, or consider the PhysicsWOOT program by Art of Problem Solving. Another good resource is Physics (5th edition) by Halliday, Resnick, and Krane.

For more details, such as how to apply, see the FAQ.



A lot of people ask me for advice for learning physics or preparing for the F=ma and USAPhO exams. Here’s a summary of what I know.


Below are some expository works on physics, at both the popular and technical level.

  • Cosmological Relaxation. A dissertation written for the Oxford MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, covering models that “relax” the Higgs boson’s mass. Also contains musings on model building and the precise meaning of naturalness and fine-tuning.
  • The Meaning of Nothing. The New College Demuth prize essay, on how theoretical stories map onto reality, and why a physicist’s philosophical flexibility is a useful tool. Published in the New College Record with a wonderful illustration by Audrey Effenberger.

I’m also active on Physics StackExchange. Some of my answers are here.