The winners were selected by the ATLAS Thesis Awards Committee for their outstanding contributions to the collaboration in the context of a PhD thesis. A total of 33 nominations were received, all of a very high standard and encompassing major achievements in all areas of ATLAS results and activities.
During the ceremony, the winners gave presentations about their thesis work in front of members of the ATLAS collaboration, including ATLAS Spokesperson Dave Charlton: "We were delighted to hear about their achievements as students on ATLAS," says Charlton, who went on to describe the event as "one of the best parts of my week". He shook hands with the winners and – together with Thesis Committee Chair, Anna Di Ciaccio, and ATLAS Collaboration Board Chair, Katsuo Tokushuku – presented them all with certificates and an engraved glass model of the ATLAS detector.
"It's nice to have recognition for all the hard work," comments Javier Montejo Berlingen, who did his graduate studies with the Institute for High Energy Physics (IFAE) in Barcelona (Spain). "It's something that you basically don't notice while you're doing the PhD but this award has been an opportunity to look back and see how much has been done over all those years. I was part of a nice, small analysis group during my PhD; we were a small family were you could learn a lot. Those people are now really good friends." Javier is continuing his career with ATLAS, doing his post-graduate work with the Trigger and Supersymmetry (SUSY) group as a CERN fellow.
Steven Schramm, who did his PhD with the University of Toronto (Canada), took part in the search for dark matter, as part of the exotics group, while also working with the Jet Etmiss group. "It was always very busy – that's life at ATLAS," says Steven. "But it was a very good type of busy and I've had a lot of fun. There's really a sense of community, everyone working together to try to make things as good as possible, trying to deliver an amazing product." Steven is now with the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and, since October 2015, has been the ATLAS Jet Trigger convenor.
Winners Ruth Pöttgen and Nils Ruthmann both came to CERN as summer students in 2009. "It was funny as Nils and I were actually studying in the same university, but hadn't known each other very well until we came to ATLAS as students," says Ruth Pöttgen. "During that summer, I worked on the ATLAS pixel detector doing hardware work, installing and changing little devices. It was really cool and it kind of infected me. I always wanted to go back." A few years later, after finishing her diploma, Ruth returned to CERN in 2011 with a Wolfgang-Gentner Scholarship, and affiliated with Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (Germany). For her PhD, Ruth carried out a search for Dark Matter in mono-jet events while also working in the ATLAS Central Trigger group.
Ruth is now doing her post-doctoral studies with Stockholm University (Sweden): "Over the past year I have been focusing on the leptoquark search," she continues. "It has been quite exciting to look at the first 13 TeV data coming out of ATLAS."
"I did most of my PhD work within the ATLAS Higgs group; that's one of the biggest physics groups in ATLAS," says Nils Ruthmann, who did his PhD with the University of Freiburg (Germany). "When I started in 2011, the search for the Higgs was already ongoing in the big channels. Whereas I joined the effort to look for the Higgs decaying into two tau (ττ) leptons, which came a little later as it is a super complex analysis that needs a bit more data. For me, the timing was perfect. From the time I started my analysis to my thesis defence in 2014, I was able to cover the progress to the discovery in the ττ channel."
Now as post-graduate based at CERN, Nils has changed focus to a new area of investigation: SUSY. "With the increase of energy during Run 2, searches for new physics are very important," continues Nils. "A lot of man power is moving from Higgs to SUSY and it should be an interesting time."
Each year the ATLAS Thesis Awards Committee puts forward nominations to the Springer Thesis series and, this year, both Steven Schramm's thesis and Ruth Pöttgen's thesis have been forwarded as the collaboration's nominations.