Category Archives: Switzerland

15 years in ATLAS

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 …

Nuit de la science


Last weekend I had a quick trip to Geneva. Aside the usual meetings at Cern, I had the pleasure to host another BYOPD event. This time as part of the ‘Nuit de la science‘ at the ‘Musée d’histoire des sciences‘ on invitation of the Atlas group at the University of Geneva.

With in total 17 hours plus preparation and clean-up time, it was quite a bit of work, but it was certainly a lot of fun again. We had over 80 contestants, ranging age three to 74, entering the competition and quite a few more people just chatting with us about particle physics, Cern, Atlas and whatnot.

We also had cloud chamber as well as the ATLASrift as part of the particle physics contribution.

PopScience, BYOPD and PhD Comics

Yesterday, we had another PopScience BYOPD event in Geneva. While it was a bit calm in the morning it ended up quite nice with a decent number of visitors/participants in the afternoon. In fact, I had Jorge Cham, creator of PhD Comics,  joining the competition. Unfortunately, I missed his talk and the showing of the PhD Movie sequel the day before. Luckily, I could make it up with a nice autograph from him (see below).
For the actual European researchers’ night, there were discussion of the physics in movies such as Gravity, Interstellar, Star Trek or Angels & Demons as well as a screening of Particle Fever and a discussion with some of physics cast.

Munich Hamburg Munich Oxford Munich Geneva Munich

What should I say, the last week has been quite interesting and maybe a little bit too much.

Friday, 19 September it all started with a – at first – smooth road trip from Munich to Hamburg. Unfortunately, two road blocks turned the whole thing into an exhausting ten hour drive.
After some relax time with friends (greetz), it was time for the first BYOPD event in September on Saturday.  The “Tag der Forschung” (Day of Research) at the HZG in Geesthacht turned out to be very successful event for BYOPD with over 75 participants. After eight hours of science, Legos and kids, the day found a deserved end with a great BBQ (thanks).
On Sunday it took me another ten hours to drive back to Munich. Only bearable due the fact that I found a very nice geocache along the way ;)

After a too short night, I was on the way to Oxford to spend some days (including my last two days of parental leave) talking and thinking about SUSY after the restart of the LHC in 2015.
Here it also turned out, that I apparently not only found treasures on my previous road trip, but also two ticks happily

After finding my way back home and sleeping for four hours, I made my way back to the airport (good thing the ticket I used to get into town was still valid) with all the Legos to go to Geneva.
The PopScience event – part of the European Researches’ Night – took place the FNAC store in the centre of Geneva and featured yet another BYOPD event in September. Not as big as the other one, but still with some very nice contributions.

Today there’s finally some spare time to write this  and I am very much looking forward to get to the airport and back home :)