Laura in front of the ATLAS detector at CERN. Photo: Laura Pereira Sánchez
Laura from Spain is a PhD student at
Stockholm University in Sweden. She works in the ATLAS collaboration analysing data from the high energy proton-proton collisions of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Laura is currently searching for some particles predicted by a theory called supersymmetry. Find out more about her and her work in her Women in Research interview on our blog:
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Every new project I take up feels cool to me. I love what I am doing and learning new stuff. Therefore, every time I take up a new project, I find it extremely cool. Among all of them, the coolest projects I have worked on are definitely the projects in the ATLAS collaboration. During my master programme, I measured the decay of a top quark, to a Higgs boson and an up-type quark. This decay is forbidden in the standard model at tree-level, which means that it is very unlikely to occur. We are indeed not sensitive to these events yet, however, several theories beyond the standard model predict this decay to occur more often. This means that if we were able to measure it we would indeed be able to say which of this theories beyond the standard model actually match with the reality and which don’t. I found this analysis extremely interesting because in the final state, I worked on, where the Higgs decays to a couple of bottom quarks, we were severely limited by systematic uncertainties and a smarter, new approach was needed to improve our results. This has actually been my first article in a scientific magazine. It was published at the end of May in the ‘Journal of High Energy Physics’ and I am extremely happy that my name appears in the authors list.
Currently, as part of my PhD, I am searching for the supersymmetric partner of the top quark. This is a very different type of analysis, where we directly look for signatures of one of the theories that could replace the standard model, the most accepted and tested theory at the moment. Discovering any of the particles predicted by supersymmetry, which are not predicted by the standard model would definitely be a great scientific breakthrough. However, up to the moment we have only been able to exclude several models and different mass ranges for the predicted particles.