An exceptional summer
30 August 2016 | By
For many students, summer means sun and beach volleyball. For some, though, it is an opportunity to learn at ATLAS! Thanks to CERN’s Summer Student Programme, every year dozens of university students come to ATLAS to spend their holidays in this unique environment. During these three months they alternate between lectures and work, always supported by their supervisors.
This summer, ATLAS hosted 50 students from 31 different countries. Here are some of their stories.
Hitomi Tokutake (Tokyo Institute of Technology) and German Carrillo-Montoya (CERN)
“Before I came here, I was collaborating with ATLAS in Japan, developing a new pixel detector. Now I work with computer simulations, something that was completely new for me,” says Hitomi.
Through computer simulations, Hitomi tests different Supersymmetry models, trying to understand how they might enhance the search of these particles. “At the beginning, I had limited computing abilities,” she admits. However, her supervisor assures us that she learnt very quickly.
“Supervising helps to clear my mind,” says German, her supervisor. “When you have to explain something, you realise if you have really understood it. Summer students are not the only one who learn a lot from this experience.”
Emmanuel Jean Arbouch (Université Paris-Sud, Orsay) and Richard Polifka (University of Toronto)
“This experience has motivated me. Three months are not a lot, but they are enough to stimulate your curiosity,” says Emmanuel.
Emmanuel has been involved in the preparation for ATLAS’ next upgrade. In particular, rather than working on the enhancement of an existing instrument, he is helping to create a brand-new detector called the high granularity timing detector.
Richard, his supervisor, says: “When you have been working here for a long time, you tend to forget about the bigger picture. Being a supervisor helps me to take a step back, and to remember what are the big goals of science.”
Marceline Keser (Avans University of Applied Sciences) and Theodoros Alexopoulos (National Technical University of Athens)
“Being a summer student is really cool. It is an opportunity to learn a lot of things, to work in a team and, of course, to meet new friends,” says Marceline.
Marceline is studying electrical engineering, but she has always been fascinated with physics. When she discovered that engineers could also participate to the Summer Student Programme, she did not hesitate to apply. At ATLAS, she has been working on the electronics readout scheme of the micromegas detector for the New Small Wheel upgrade project.
“I’ve supervised several summer students in the past years,” says Theodoros, her supervisor, “and I think that this programme is great. It gives us the opportunity to motivate students, which is vital for the future of the high energy physics.”
Arzoo Noorani (University of Sharjah) and Julia Hrdinka (Vienna University of Technology)
“I learnt more than I expected, not only about physics but also about life in a professional environment,” says Arzoo.
Arzoo is an undergraduate in applied physics who has spent her summer working on the common tracking software. “Though I have finished the summer programme, I would like to keep working on this project from my home institution,” she explains. “I have planned to make it my graduation project.”
Her supervisor, Julia, is a PhD student and she enjoyed the experience: “Arzoo reminds me of myself when I first came to ATLAS. She is so curious and enthusiastic.”
Jonathon Langford (University of Manchester) and Jiri Masik (University of Manchester)
“My aim now is to do a PhD in high-energy physics,” says Jonathon. “It is something I had been considering and my experience as a summer student has definitely pushed me more towards it.”
Jonathon, together with his supervisor Jiri, is working in the ATLAS trigger group. “I am developing an algorithm to measure the tracking efficiency,” he says. “At the moment, I am making calculations offline, but eventually we will be able to test my algorithm online – so while the detector is running.”
Jiri likes the Summer Student Programme: “It is useful to get the perspective of a person that doesn’t come from our team. They often bring new ideas.”
Hywel Turner Evans (Swansea University) and Carla Sbarra (Università di Bologna e INFN)
“I thought ATLAS would be an interesting, fun place to work - and it is!” says Hywel.
However, it was not a walk in the park – especially at the beginning. Hywel had to work hard to learn how to use ROOT, an essential instrument for the analyses he carried out. His main task was checking the robustness of the luminosity detector's data.
“I am very happy with him,” says Carla, his co-supervisor. “He is very independent and he has already had his first results.”
Shusei Kamioka (University of Tokyo) and Markus Elsing (CERN)
“I came to ATLAS because it was a great opportunity to meet scientists from different countries. Also, there are other advantages, like the climate,” says Shusei.
Of course, Shusei is not here only to enjoy the warm weather; during the summer, he has implemented different techniques to study the calibration of jets in the ATLAS Fast Physics Monitoring system. He obtained excellent results that were presented in ATLAS calibration meetings and at the Summer Students Poster Session.
“What I like the most about summer students is their enthusiasm,” explains Markus, his supervisor. “Shusei is learning very quickly. For him everything is new, and still he has been able to obtain very interesting results.”
Nicholai Mauritzsson (Lund University) and Christopher Young (CERN)
“ATLAS Collaboration is huge; I have never been part of anything like this before,” says Nicholai.
During the summer, Nicholai has been working on the high granularity timing detector, which is being developed for the forward region of ATLAS. He aims to maintain ATLAS reconstruction performance after the phase II upgrade.
His supervisor Christopher has been working for CERN since 2013, and during this period he has supervised many summer students. “It is a very interesting experience,” he says, “because you always end up working on something slightly different from what you are used to.”
Barbara Skrzypek (Loyola University Chicago), Benjamin Paul Jaeger (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) and Teng Jian Khoo (Université de Genève)
“We applied to the programme with different expectations,” says Ben. “Barbara is an undergrad student who wanted to discover how experimental physics works, while I had worked with ATLAS for my bachelor thesis, so I already knew what to expect.”
Both Ben and Barbara are doing performance studies concerning particle flow, trying to improve jet and missing transverse momentum reconstruction in ATLAS' trigger system. “Our projects are complementary,” says Barbara. “I am looking for a faster way to extrapolate tracks, while he is focusing mostly on the tracks themselves.”
Teng Jian enjoyed the supervising experience: “It is nice to be able to define a small, self-contained project, somewhat independent from a lot of the day-to-day concerns.”
Monika Venčkauskaitė (Vilnius University) and Caterina Doglioni (Lund University)
“I was fascinated by the discoveries made by CERN, and the Summer Student Programme was an amazing opportunity to see how it works from the inside,” says Monika.
Monika is using computer simulations to look for Supersymmetric top quarks, trying to distinguish them from background processes. She enjoys her job, but the thing she likes most about ATLAS is its atmosphere: “Everyone here has the same goal: expanding human knowledge.”
Caterina, her supervisor, was a summer student herself, and she is understandably enthusiastic about the programme. “You have only three months to work with the students,” she says, “and the limited amount of time helps you focus on them and their projects.”
Helle Gormsen (University of Copenhagen) and Ralf Gugel (Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg)
“After all the theoretical courses I have followed, I wanted to do some experimental work to see what it was like,” says Helle.
Indeed, during the summer Helle had the opportunity to understand how experimental physics works. Over the past three months, she has been analysing data with focus on the Higgs to WW decay channel. “Now that I had this experience,” she says, “I am ready to go back to my university to start my Master’s.”
Ralf is rather a PhD student who has supported Helle during her stay. He is pleased by this experience and he hopes to work with summer students again in the future.
Giulia Di Gregorio (University of Pisa) and Henric Wilkens (CERN)
“At ATLAS I feel always welcome,” says Giulia.
Giulia came to ATLAS to experience the world of research. After years of academic studies, she wanted to know if she would enjoy this kind of hands-on job. Together with Henric, her supervisor, she has been working on the calibration of the Tile calorimeter – and she found that she really likes it, after all.
Henric is a long-time supervisor; he had his first summer student back in 1999. “Next to the fact that summer students help us with our work,” he says, “it is an opportunity to inspire young physicists.”