Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to present the new ATLAS Visitor Centre at the Lepton Photon 2021 conference. It’s been great and fun to lead this project and to propose and develop at lot of new content together with great people within the ATLAS Collaboration, the CERN exhibitions team and the design company Point Prod in Geneva. And it’s great to finally see it come to conclusion and open up to the public once visitors are allowed at CERN again.
After more than sixteen years at the ATLAS experiment it seems to be time for a change, and for me that change is going from quarks to qubits, and from a mix of fundamental research, teaching and science communication to a full-time job working on public engagement and didactics for the recently founded Munich Quantum Valley.
Fifteen years ago, Tuesday 8 March 2005 at 9:57am, I received my CERN account, to start working for the ATLAS Experiment.
What started as an internship – chosen because of a lack of courses in the field I originally planned to pursuit, the physics of macromolecules – in the high-energy-physics group at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, turned into a stay at CERN during the Summer Student Programme and a Master’s thesis about the electron identification with the ATLAS transition-radiation tracker (internal) together with studies on a precision measurement of the W-boson mass.
During my PhD at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY in Zeuthen and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and various short stays at CERN I was mainly working on the commissioning of the ATLAS pixel detector (internal) and data-driven algorithms to determine the W+Jets background in events with pair-produced top quarks, and was involved in the startup of the German National Analysis Facility.
Going back to the Niels Bohr Institute as a postdoc, I started working on searches for unconventional signatures and long-lived particles and got stuck with that ever since.
I started out looking for heavy, charged long-lived particles, an analysis I continued also after moving to LMU Munich in 2014. Since then, I had the pleasure of leading two ATLAS physics subgroups – supersymmetry with R-parity-violating and long-lived signatures as well as exotics with unconventional and exotic Higgs decays – and joined a community effort in documenting the current status and harmonise searches for long-lived particles at the LHC. Amongst other things, I am currently also working on searches for Soft Unclustered Energy Patterns as signatures of strongly coupled Hidden Sectors and just finished my habilitation.
Besides physics analysis, especially looking for long-lived particles, I was always interested in science communication and education and have been involved in outreach projects since 2006. Highlights were and are certainly the design of the ATLAS LEGO model in 2011, the creation of the ‘Build Your Own Particle Detector‘ programme in 2013 and running it since, the coordination of the ATLAS contribution to the 2019 CERN Open Days, and the still ongoing work on a new ATLAS Visitor Centre. Since 2018, I am also an Education & Outreach coordinator for the ATLAS Collaboration.
I hope to have quite a few more years within ATLAS and other collaborations …
The CERN Open Days are already fading away, even though it was an adventure that already started in July 2018. I had the pleasure of coordinating the ATLAS activities for this 75k-visitors event together with Anna Sfyrla, Laetitia Bardo and a great team of about a dozen ATLAS members that helped us by coordinating one of our activities.
During the Open Days, which started with an underground-only family day on Friday afternoon and lasted until Sunday evening, almost 300 ATLAS members joined as volunteers to make the ATLAS activities – as far as I am concerned – a huge success.
The past ten days have been somewhat crazy (unfortunately the upcoming ones don’t seem to be calmer) …
From 4 to 6 October I joined the autumn meeting of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG) at CERN as the representative of the ATLAS Collaboration, listening to and discussing about worldwide efforts in particle physics science education and communication. IPPOG – a global network of scientists, science educators and communication specialists – welcomed four new members at the end of the meeting: Austria, Denmark, the LHCb Collaboration and the ALICE Collaboration. Amongst other things we had brainstorm session on possible new exhibits to improve and extend the IPPOG resource database and how to communicate the knowledge transfer from particle physics to society.
From 8 to 12 October I was at CERN for the ATLAS Collaboration Week as well as lots of other meetings. In an intensive though productive outreach session, we dedicated a large fraction of the time to the status of and future plans for ATLAS Open Data. On Thursday we had 39 students from LMU Munich over for a full-day visit to CERN, in particular the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) Control Room, the CERN Control Centre, the magnet-test facility (SM18) as well as the ATLAS Visitor Centre. And … hohoho … I witnessed a very special VIP (white-bearded guy dressed in red) visit to ATLAS last week ;)
Last but not least, on 13 October we had our annual Open Day in Garching, this time incorporated into the 150 years TUM celebrations (who shouldn’t get any credits, because they didn’t print our activity in the official programme … buh!). Similar to last year’s event, we had the ground floor of the Institute for Advanced Studies and showed the ATLAS LEGO model, hosted a Build Your Own Particle Detector event/competition and had a little particle physics exhibition with live event displays from CERN, short movies about ATLAS and CERN, the Netzwerk Teilchenwelt button machine and loads of discussions. Finally we hosted a screening of ‘BBC Horizon – Inside CERN‘, a documentary about the ‘famous’ 750 GeV bump in 2015 LHC data, as well as an extensive question-and-answer sessions afterwards.