OSU physicists land $1.266 million grant from Department of Energy

(STILLWATER, Okla., Oct. 6, 2017) – Five high energy physicists from the Oklahoma State University Department of Physics have secured a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy worth $1.266 million to conduct fundamental research in elementary particle physics.

The grant, which is spread over three years, will support research in experimental particle physics led by Drs. Flera Rizatdinova, Alexander Khanov and Joseph Haley as well as theoretical physics research led by Drs. Satya Nandi and Kaladi Babu.

Rizatdinova is a professor of physics and the leader of the high energy experimental physics program at OSU, Khanov is an associate professor of physics and Haley is an assistant professor of physics at OSU. All three are involved in the international ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, and have contributed to the discovery of a new fundamental particle, the Higgs boson. Their current research focuses on searching for new fundamental particles associated with supersymmetry as well as very heavy, yet-to-be-seen particles known as vector-like quarks. The OSU team is also involved in the upgrade of the ATLAS detector scheduled for the near future.

Nandi, the principal investigator of this grant, and Babu are Regents Professors in the physics department. Their research focuses on new theories leading to new particles and phenomena that may be discovered at the Large Hadron Collider. Such theories include new types of Higgs bosons, new dimensions beyond the known three, supersymmetry and unification of particles and forces.

This Department of Energy grant will also support theoretical explorations in neutrino physics, in particular, new phenomena that may be revealed in the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) which is under construction in the US. This experiment involves neutrino beams - beams of elusive particles that rarely interact - shot from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago and detected in a deep underground mine in South Dakota some 1,300 km away, and looks for quantum entanglements of different species of neutrinos. Babu is currently a Distinguished Fermilab Scholar and spends time there in the summer for research collaboration, along with his students.

This grant will enhance the participation of the OSU high energy physics group in research at the world's highest energy particle accelerator, and will support students and postdoctoral fellows, with some stationed at the CERN laboratory. It will also enhance OSU participation in research at the "intensity frontier" associated with neutrino oscillations, and will enhance collaborations with Fermilab and will provide opportunities for OSU students to participate in research at the national lab.

Article by Brian Petrotta | Arts and Sciences