How does nature behave at the smallest scale? What fundamental particles exist, and what laws govern their interactions? My group works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in an attempt to answer some of the outstanding questions in particle physics.
Supersymmetry is a symmetry between fundamental particles with different spin. If supersymmetry is a valid symmetry of nature, then for every fundamental particle with integer spin, there exists a mirror particle with half-integer spin, and vice-versa. Anti-matter is a similar symmetry: every matter particle has an anti-matter counterpart which is exactly the same, except for its charge. There has been experimental proof of anti-matter’s existence since 1932, when the positron was discovered.
Supersymmetry would provide an explanation for why the Higgs Boson has the mass that it does (which is much smaller than we would anticipate from first principles), provides a compelling candidate for dark matter (which we know exists from gravitational and astronomical evidence), and could help unify the electromagnetic, strong, and weak forces at high energy.
My group is searching for supersymmetric particles at the ATLAS experiment.
New, Long-lived particles
Most searches for new particles at the LHC assume that the new particles promptly decay into known standard model particles. However, there are many reasons why new particles might have a macroscopic lifetime that allows them to travel a measurable distance before decaying. Indeed, many standard model particles have macroscopic lifetimes. New particles with long-lifetimes arise naturally in many compelling theories of dark matter, supersymmetry, and exotic theories called hidden valley models. These new, long-lived particles would be invisible to the standard searches, and my group works on dedicated searches for long-lived particles.
These searches are one of the most promising places in which new physics might be hiding at the LHC. They are also challenging, and fun.
The ATLAS Inner Tracker
The LHC will undergo significant upgrades to achieve a higher rate of collisions starting in 2026. To efficiently record this high-luminosity data and to pursue an additional decade of interesting measurements and searches, ATLAS is building an entirely new inner detector called the Inner Tracker (ITk.) The ITk will be an all-silicon detector with five layers of pixel sensors and four layers of strip sensors. My group is developing components of the data-acquisition technology to read out, calibrate, and tune the new detector.