Jock McOrist

Welcome to my homepage!

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Surrey. My research interests lie in mathematical physics, in particular, the interplay between geometry and string theory & quantum field theory.

Here's a link to my presence on the Surrey Maths webpage.

This page was last updated 18/10/12.


Department of Mathematics
University of Surrey
Guildford GU2 7XH
United Kingdom


+44 (0) 1483 68 2269


05 AA 04


j.mcorist _at_

CV, Grants, Publications and Talks

My CV is available here.

My talks are listed here.

My publications are listed here.

Courses I am teaching are listed here.


Research Interests

My research interests are primarily focussed on the interplay between mathematics and the physics of string theory and quantum field theory. In particular, I am interested sigma model descriptions of string compactifications with vector bundles (via the heterotic string) and exploring the definition of mirror symmetry for vector bundles & sheaves.

  • Sigma models and the geometry of heterotic string compactifications

The aim of this work is to understand the underlying sigma model descriptions of heterotic string compactifications.  Mirror symmetry, a conjecture that arose in the 1990s that Calabi-Yau manifolds come in topologically distinct pairs, proved to be a striking geometric relation.  What we have been steadily uncovering over recent years is a new type of mirror symmetry for vector bundles and sheaves. If true, this conjecture would greatly improve our understanding of the geometry of vector bundles & sheaves on Calabi-Yau manifolds.

For example in [hep-th] 0712.3272 and [hep-th] 0810.0012 we developed techniques via linear sigma models for understanding the quantum cohomology of vector bundles attained as deformations of the tangent bundle. This means physically we computed worldsheet instanton corrections to certain Yukawa couplings. In [hep-th] 1001.2104  we explored the moduli space of deformations of the tangent bundle, expressing quantities in a combinatorial fashion. This makes manifest some of the issues and structure of algebraic mirror symmetry for deformations of the tangent bundle. Most recently, in [hep-th] 1103.1322  we explored a linear sigma model description of rank 4 bundles (those not attainable as deformation of the tangent bundle).

I have written an invited review (published by IJMPA) on the status of this topic, summarising some of the most recent developments. The review is aimed at a string theorist familiar with some of the basics of string compactifications.

  • Compactifications, Dualities and Fluxes

I am interested in using string dualities to uncover otherwise obscure properties of string vacau. With Savdeep Sethi in  [hep-th] 1208.0261, we used various duality sequences to construct new vacua of M-theory and type IIA with fluxes. These vacua evade a famous no-go theorem by the inclusion of new higher derivative corrections to the SUGRA action. Such corrections should allow the construction of a wide array of new vacua.  In  [hep-th] 1004.5447 we showed how heterotic--F-theory duality can be used to understand generic features of heterotic vacua both with and without fluxes. This leads to an interesting conclusion that the generic (perturbative) heterotic vacuum is non-geometric. This is work with Savdeep Sethi and David Morrison.

  • Localised brane solutions of supergravity

In [hep-th] 1101.3552 and [hep-th] 1107.5895 we showed how to use dualities of string theory to construct a supergravity solution describing a pair of NS5-branes intersecting in a non-trivial fashion. The nice thing about this is the solution is localised in every direction except one and this amounts to solving a Monge-Ampere equation -- a non-linear PDE -- with source terms, solutions of which are hard to come by!

  • Supersymmetry breaking in string theory

This work concerns embedding four-dimensional vacua in string theory that break supersymmetry spontaneously. The eventual hope of this work is to understand how six-dimensional geometries (either brane or Calabi-Yau geometries) may give rise to phenomenologically realistic vacua. We constructed brane geometries and Calabi-Yau geometries that exhibit supersymmetry breaking features. This involves solving for the geometry perturbatively, and showing how this geometry modifies four-dimensional physics. In [hep-th] 0904.0459 we showed how this works for particle physics (time-independent Minkowski space) while in [hep-th] 0909.3319, we studied how such configurations may manifest themselves in cosmology (time-dependent Minkowski space).

  • Flux vacua, especially RR flux vacua, from the point of view of the string worldsheet.

In this work [hep-th] 0804.0613 we showed how the Hybrid formalism of Berkovits may be used to understand worldsheet descriptions of RR flux vacua. We constructed the Gukov-Vafa-Witten superpotential and showed how warping of spacetime arises.

I have also worked on plasma astrophysics. This is work primarily with Don Melrose and arose from my M. Sc. and B. Sc. theses at the University of Sydney.