The KSU high energy physics group enjoyed another busy and productive year.
On the research front, K-State’s D-Zero experiment (see http://www-d0.fnal.gov/) continues to collect the world’s highest energy collision data at the Fermilab Tevatron. KSU members of D-Zero performed several measurements that were recognized as “Fermilab Results of the Week”. Very readable write-ups are available on the web, and include assistant professor Yurii Maravin’s “Reuniting a family” (http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive_2007/today07-11-01.html), graduate student Mahsana Ahsan’s and professor Tim Bolton’s “Dipping into the Strange Sea” (http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive_2007/today07-09-06.html), Maravin and graduate student Alexey Ferapontov’s “An illicit affair’’ (http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive_2007/today07-07-12.html ), and post-doc Dmitri Bandurin’s “Building a strong interaction’’ (http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive_2007/today07-05-17.html). And yes, the titles do make sense and refer strictly to physics!
In less than a 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/). Working with Tim, KSU Electronics Design Laboratory engineer Russell Taylor and a terrific crew of K-State EE students finished checking out hundreds of specialized circuits for the forward pixels out in the KSU high bay lab. Post-doc Zongru Wan developed an extremely clever suite of programs that allow the CMS experiment to be monitored by any device that has a web browser, even a cell phone. Yurii , Dmitri B., and graduate students Keti Kaadze, Irakli Chakaveria, and Irakli Svintradzeare dramatically improved the experiment’s software that finds and reconstructs the momentum vectors of high energy photons, electrons, and positrons. Keti has in fact been living at CERN for the last six months. She will soon be joined in Switzerland by Irakli C. and KSU undergraduate Codi Gharagouzloo. Irakli and Codi will take up residence across the country to work on a special NSF-funded international research collaboration on the next generation of pixel detectors for CMS at the prestigious Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zurich. Codi will attend classes at ETH, “Switzerland’s MIT”, as part of this program.
Meanwhile assistant professor Glenn Horton-Smith leads KSU’s program in neutrino oscillation physics with the help of professors Noel Stanton and Tim Bolton. Graduate students Mark Smith, Jasmine Foster, and Deepak Shrestha work with Glenn on the KAMLAND (see http://www.awa.tohoku.ac.jp/html/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 is exposing 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. Mark is still looking for a nearby room is that sits about 50 feet underground and hopefully has some heat and lights that he can use to shield his detector from “common” cosmic rays! Deepak will be KSU’s first student on Double Chooz. In recognition of his expertise, the international Double Chooz collaboration recently put Glenn in charge of all of the experiment’s offline software (and a lot of the online software too!).
Looking towards the long term future, post-doc Dimitry Onoprienko worked with Bolton and Maravin to complete a highly regarded set of studies on charged particle tracking for 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 electron 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 Wright, who ably assists our fine research administrator Pamela Anderson, and undergraduate researchers Jennifer Pratt, Zack Warren, and Ashley Wheeler.
We also remain proud of our HEP outreach activities (see http://www.phys.ksu.edu/hep/). Our 22-teacher Quarknet project continued under the able guidance of lead-teacher Laurie Cleavinger of McLouth High School and new lead teacher Gail Anne Araunnd of Pike Valley High School, and with the continuing collaboration of Sanjay Rebello and the KSU PERG. Laurie was recognized by the KSU Sigma Xi scientific honor society’s chapter as its outstanding high school science teacher for 2007. 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. Bill Reay continues his “third career” in physics education research at the Ohio State University; Bill will deliver a colloquium at K-State in April. Ron Sidwell plays the stock market and helps his wife and former HEP technician Robin tinker with their new house on the Olympic peninsula in Washington. Kristian Harder continues at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom. Former research faculty member Tina Khaniashvili finished a fellowship at New York University and will visit KSU this spring. Drew Alton remains with KSU physics classmate Eric Wells on the faculty of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. Jesse Goldman has joined the faculty of the National University of Singapore. 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 Interuniversitary Institute for High Energy Physics in Brussels, Belgium.
pleasant little piece of news: an NSF PIRE grant on which we are co-PIs
has just been awarded.