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NuFront: Neutrinos at the Physics Frontier

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships

What

Particle physics is about understanding the most fundamental 'pieces' of our Universe, and how they fit together. Within that framework is the neutrino, which is one of the most numerous fundamental particles in the Universe and one of the least well measured.

My goal is to use the existing IceCube neutrino detector at the South Pole–and future extensions–to make the precision oscillation measurements necessary to test for new fundamental interactions and the existence of new particle physics phenomena.

Why

It is easy for new discoveries and knowledge to hide where measurements are imprecise. This project aims to make the most precise analysis of the already bizarre feature of neutrino oscillation, wherein a neutrino changes its quantum property of flavour as it travels. This feature is already outside the normal Standard Model of particle physics and is a natural doorway for exotic new physics.

The project is additionally important now, because it includes critical preparation and optimization of the IceCube-Upgrade; a significant extension to the existing IceCube detector which will be deployed in 2022/23.

How

The IceCube neutrino detector at the South Pole is a cubic kilometer of ice which is instrumented to detect neutrinos. Within IceCube data are neutrinos generated within the Earth's atmosphere and which have oscillated to a different flavour as they travel to the South Pole.

To better understand the physics of neutrino oscillation, and any potential deviations due to new physics, I will develop new data analysis tools and machine learning algorithms that can use the existing IceCube data as well as prepare for the amazing data which will be available with the IceCube-Upgrade.

SSR

My research sparks curiosity and motivation in science and art that extends well beyond a pure academic pursuit. The concept of a fundamental particle (the neutrino) changing a core quantum property is mystifying both from a physics point-of-view but also from a philosophy perspective. I have already been, and will continue to be, involved in creative projects where science is inspirational for art.

From a more concrete vantage point, my project is at the edge of Big Data; requiring developing the tools and people to solve the technical and data-driven challenges of today and tomorrow.