“Magicians and scientists are, on the face of it, poles apart. Certainly, a group of people who often dress strangely, live in a world of their own, speak a specialised language and frequently make statements that appear to be in flagrant breach of common-sense have nothing in common with a group of people who often dress strangely, speak a specialised language, live in… er…”
– Terry Pratchett (1948–2015), “The Science of Discworld”
Hoi! Mijn naam is Brian en ik ben nieuw hier bij Nikhef. Unfortunately, this first sentence represents close to all my knowledge of Dutch so far and therefore I hope you don‘t mind that I switch to English in this second sentence. First of all, I think I should be polite enough to introduce myself: I am 23 years old and from a small town called Elzach, in the south west of Germany. But how did I get to Nikhef? Fair enough question, I think I‘ll give it a try…
After finishing high school I started studying physics at the University of Freiburg. Having a strong particle physics community within the faculty, I got in touch with the subject in general and specifically with the ATLAS experiment at CERN‘s Large Hadron Collider rather early. I had the opportunity to write both my bachelor- and master thesis in the group of Prof. Dr. Karl Jakobs and Dr. Christian Weiser. My master thesis focused on the search for a (Standard Model) Higgs boson decaying into a pair of b quarks where I investigated a major background process arising from top-quark pair-production. This year, both the ATLAS and CMS collaborations published ‘evidence’ for this decay which makes it an even more exciting field to work in on the road to ‘observation’.
During my time in Freiburg I had the unique opportunity to become a Summer Student at CERN where I tested silicon strip modules for the upgrade of the ATLAS detector towards the HL-LHC phase. I remember very well, on one of our first days at CERN we were told, that after having lived in this inspiring atmosphere once there will be hardly any way back to ‘normality’ – and indeed I have to agree.
This experience made it easy for me to decide to apply for a PhD position to try to contribute as much as I can to the research done in this very exciting field. And what better place to continue this journey than Nikhef?
Together with Tristan du Pree, Hannah Arnold and Marko Stamenkovic I am going to investigate heavy flavor decays of the Higgs boson. My main focus will be on the decay into two b quarks together with an initial state radiation jet of very high transverse momentum. This very challenging analysis can provide both a better understanding of the true nature of the Higgs boson and a portal for potential new physics.
Any questions left? Let‘s have a coffee…
Brian’s master thesis: https://cernbox.cern.ch/index.php/s/1iJN2qFHLFiVYAT
Brian’s summer student report: https://cernbox.cern.ch/index.php/s/A8ex9RvCk0PH0lC