10/22/2014 8:37:59 PM

Physics Gaining Momentum

Friday, March 08, 2013

By Mitchel Clow '13

Matt Bellis, assistant professor of physics, has joined the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as an associate member, affiliated with the Cornell University research group. The LHC is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator and is regarded as an engineering milestone. The CMS experiment is one of the flagship detectors at the LHC and was one of two that claimed observation of a Higgs-like particle in the summer of 2012. Bellis’s association represents a tremendous opportunity for Siena students to be involved in one of the most exciting particle physics experiments of our time.

In January Bellis brought Danielle Berish ’14 to the CMS Data Analysis School held at Femilab in Batavia, Illinois. This school is held once a year at select locations around the world and is an intense program designed to get CMS collaborators up-to-speed with the latest software and analysis techniques.

“We worked with undergrads, graduate students and post-docs from the University at Buffalo, University of Rochester and Cornell University,” Bellis said.

There were eight teams working on long exercises trying to make a new discovery. “With three undergrads in my group, we were thrilled to be recognized as one of two winners based on our findings,” Berish, who plans to attend graduate school after Siena, said.

“It was a great opportunity for us to learn about the physics, analysis techniques and computing involved. We spent the week learning how to do the research,” Bellis said.

“It was overwhelming at times, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had since I’ve been at Siena,” Berish said.

Bellis is also collaborating with a colleague at the University of Chicago on an experiment located at the Soudan Underground Laboratory in Minnesota that has been designed to look for signs of dark matter interacting with a detector. Laura Apicello ’13 is working with Bellis to measure the nuclear decay backgrounds in the experiment, a crucial part of the final analysis, and is on track to present her work at the 2013 April American Physical Society Conference meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Apicello participated in a research meeting where no one knows the final answer and everyone is trying to figure it out.

With these connections starting to form, Bellis and his students have plenty of reasons to be excited about the opportunities ahead of them.
 


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