Currently, they are working on projects at the European research center and were present during the president’s announcement of the initiation of the process for Chile to become an Associate Member State of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
During President Gabriel Boric’s visit to the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, located in Switzerland, which included a tour of its facilities and a meeting with its director, Fabiola Gianotti, the Federico Santa María Technical University was represented by its researchers and professionals who were trained in its classrooms.
This was announced by Nicolás Viaux, an academic from the Department of Physics at the San Joaquín Campus, who is currently working on various projects at the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. “It is an honor to represent the university and Chile in this space since it is one of the most important research centers on the planet, where USM has been developing various projects for a decade, some of which are already operational.”
In addition to Professor Viaux, other academics and researchers are working on different projects in the ATLAS experiment at CERN. This includes Raquel Pezoa, an academic from the Department of Informatics; Sebastián Tapia, an associate researcher from the General Directorate of Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (DGIIE); and Edson Carquín, a young researcher also from DGIIE. All of them are also affiliated with the Valparaíso Scientific and Technological Center (CCTVal).
During the visit, Sebastián Tapia and Andreas Hoecker, spokesperson for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), showed the president the control room of the experiment, where the operation of all detectors and data acquisition systems is monitored to record collision data used by scientists for their research and potential discoveries in various fields such as dark matter, new particles, and standard model physics, to name a few.
After the tour, Professor Viaux mentioned that President Boric visited another area where Gerardo Vásquez, Rimsky Rojas, and Alam Toro, who were trained at the Federico Santa María Technical University and currently work at prestigious foreign universities with a presence at CERN, presented one of the muon detectors built at USM, a project in which Professor Viaux was directly involved, and which is currently operational in the ATLAS experiment at CERN.
During the visit to the Center, the president took the opportunity to make an important announcement: the initiation of the process for Chile to become an Associate Member State of CERN. This initiative would bring significant benefits to the country, such as increased cooperation, investment, experience, scholarship support, knowledge transfer, training, and scientific and technological growth.
Regarding this matter, the academic from the Department of Physics explained that thanks to this decision, “there will be more opportunities for Chile, both for companies that can participate in tenders directly related to CERN and for students who can apply for scholarships and professors who can continue developing their research,” among other agreements.
He added that the president’s visit confirms CERN’s positive evaluation of the work carried out by various Chilean institutions collaborating with the ATLAS experiment.
USM Projects for ATLAS
When asked about the work he is doing at the European center, Professor Viaux detailed that he is currently involved in data analysis in the context of the standard model for particle physics. Additionally, he is working with new particle detectors that will be implemented in the ATLAS experiment in the short and long term.
Furthermore, he is researching how to apply the knowledge obtained at CERN to medicine, specifically to PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. “The idea is to apply the technology developed for particle detectors in medicine, thus being able to detect tumors at an earlier stage of their evolution, something that needs to be evaluated in terms of experimental feasibility to facilitate technology transfer,” he explained.
Academic Raquel Pezoa, on the other hand, is developing algorithms using machine learning to classify events generated in the LHC and is currently working on the analysis of models based on deep learning for jet labeling in the ATLAS experiment.
As for researcher Sebastián Tapia, who is on a several-month stay at CERN, he is studying the formation of heavy quarks in the area of “quark gluon plasma.” Moreover, he is the software coordinator for ATLAS “Heavy Ions” and a software developer for jet reconstruction.
Similarly, young researcher Edson Carquín is involved in the measurement of the Higgs boson’s triple coupling, the search for physics beyond the standard model, and software development. He also serves as the coordinator for trigger reprocessing.
It is worth mentioning that for several years, USM has been actively nurturing human capital at CERN. Students pursuing bachelor’s, engineering, master’s, and doctoral degrees continuously go to CERN to carry out part of their academic and professional training.