We address in this thesis two primary questions aimed at improving our ability to calculate reliably in the Standard Model of particle physics and probing possible new particles which may exist beyond it. First, we embark on an attempt to account for the abundance of matter in the present Universe if earlier in its history matter and antimatter were equally abundant. We explore whether baryogenesis at the electroweak phase transition could successfully account for the observed density of baryons in the Universe, using the closed-time-path (CTP) formalism of quantum field theory to calculate the buildup and relaxation of particle densities during the phase transition. For our model of the new particles and sources of CP violation necessary to account for the baryon asymmetry of the Universe, we adopt the Minimal Supersymmetric Extension of the Standard Model (MSSM). We look for regions of the parameter space in the MSSM that could give rise to sufficiently large baryon asymmetry without violating constraints on these parameters from existing experiments, in particular, constraints on masses of Higgs and supersymmetric particles from accelerator searches and precision electroweak tests, and on CP-violating parameters of the MSSM from searches for electric dipole moments of elementary particles. Next, we explore how to get around our ignorance of the dynamics of strongly interacting particles in the nonperturbative regime of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) by the clever use of effective field theories. Two applications are explored: the decay of Z bosons to hadronic jets using soft-collinear effective theory (SCET) and the radiative decays of quarkonia to light hadrons using SCET and non-relativistic QCD (NRQCD). These tools facilitate the proof of factorization of decay rates into perturbatively-calculable and nonperturbative parts. Universality of the latter among different observables provides predictive power even in our ignorance of the details of the nonperturbative physics.