KSU High Energy Physics Enjoys Another Busy & Productive Year
Tim Bolton
 

On the research front, K-State’s D-Zero experiment (see http://www-d0.fnal.gov/) at Fermilab passed the two inverse femto-barn mark in integrated luminosity.  D-Zero made the first observation this year of the production of a single top quark via the weak nuclear force (as opposed to pair production of top-anti-top via the strong nuclear force, and yes, we throw around terms like “anti-top”, all the time…).

Yurii Maravin, with post-doc Dima Bandurin and graduate student Alexei Ferapontov have finished a series of beautiful measurements of properties of collisions involving high energy photons detected with the D-Zero detector.  Graduate students Mansoora Shamim and Mahsana Ahsan are making great progress in completing their theses with Tim Bolton.  Post-doc Kristian Harder completed a crucial measurement of the absolute luminosity of the experiment.  The “layer zero upgrade,” outfitted with several components built in Manhattan in collaboration with KSU Electronics Design Lab engineer Russell Taylor, was installed in early spring and performs beautifully.  Post-doc Dima Onoprienko wrote major sections of the crucial control software for this new project.

In one more year, Fermilab will cede its title of world’s highest energy accelerator to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at the European particle physics lab CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.  K-State is deeply involved in building one of the experiments to run at the LHC called CMS (see http://cmsinfo.cern.ch/Welcome.html/).  As usual we specialize in silicon charged particle detectors, in this case the forward pixel system.  Bolton, Taylor, and a terrific crew of K-State EE students have checked out hundreds of specialized circuits for the forward pixels out in the KSU high bay lab. Onoprienko and Bolton have implemented a complex software simulation package that is needed to optimize the use of the detector.  Maravin and Bandurin are working with Fermilab colleagues to set up an operations center in Illinois that will allow US physicists to operate the CMS experiment completely by remote control from Illinois, or even desktop computers in Manhattan; and Maravin, Bandurin, and graduate student Keti Kaadze are bringing the group’s expertise in photon physics developed at D-Zero to the higher energy machine.

Meanwhile, Glenn Horton-Smith, Noel Stanton, and Bolton are leading KSU’s program in neutrino oscillation physics.  Post-doc Alfred Tang and graduate students Mark Smith and Jasmine Foster are working with this team on the KAMLAND (see http://www.awa.tohoku.ac.jp/KamLAND/) and Double-Chooz (see http://doublechooz.in2p3.fr/) experiments located in Japan and France, respectively!  Mark and Jasmine are also involved with “table-top” projects that will provide important data for the larger experiments.  Jasmine is building a liquid scintillator test module that she will expose to a low energy proton beam with the help of our friends in the Macdonald Lab; and Mark is building a specialized detector for rare cosmic ray interactions that will operate in an undergraduate enclosure.  You could help Mark out a lot in fact if you happen to know where a nearby room is that sits about 50 feet underground and hopefully has some heat and lights!

While Eckard von Toerne is enjoying a long-term leave in Bonn, Germany supported by his Sofja Kowalskaya Prize, he is still managing to keep his hand in KSU-HEP.  He and the resourceful Onoprienko have completed a highly regarded set of studies on charged particle tracking in yet another future accelerator project, this time the International Linear Collider (see http://www.linearcollider.org/cms/), a proposed futuristic complex of 30 kilometer long linear accelerators that will shoot high energy beams of electrons and positrons at each other.

As with other groups in the physics department, we continue to enjoy working with fantastic KSU undergraduates.   Our crew this year included our accounting intern Tonya Brocksmith, and undergraduate researchers Wesley Cameron, Dan Wright, Arthur Thompson, Tom Vehlewald, and Ashley Wheeler.  We are delighted that Ashley has been named a KSU McNair scholar in part for her work with our group.

We also remain proud of our HEP outreach activities (see http://www.phys.ksu.edu/hep/).  Our 22-teacher Quarknet project continues under the able guidance of lead-teacher Laurie Cleavinger of McLouth High School, and with the continuing collaboration of Sanjay Rebello and the KSU PERG.  And we continued to take a lead in the scientific literacy project KSU Center for Understanding of Origins (see http://www.phys.ksu.edu/origins/), with program assistant Nidhi Mungali making critical contributions to all facets of Center activities.

I’ll close with some more news about people.  Kristian Harder has moved on to a permanent position at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom.  Research faculty member Tina Khaniashvili (who worked with the HEP group and cosmologist Bharat Ratra), has taken a fellowship at New York University.  Our former students remain quite active:  Drew Alton has joined fellow KSU physics alumnus Eric Wells on the faculty of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD.  Jesse Goldman is now on the faculty of the California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo.  Max Goncharov is a post-doc at Texas A&M, and is now hunting for a faculty job. Shih-Wen Yang teaches physics at American River College in Los Rios, CA.  Daniel Mihalcea serves on the scientific staff of the Northern Illinois Center for Accelerator and Detector Development.  Finally, Patrick Berghaus is studying neutrino interactions at the South Pole (on the aptly named IceCube experiment) with the Inter-University Institute for High Energies in Brussels, Belgium.