Group members

Dr. Benjamin Jones (Assistant Professor of Physics)

Dr. Jones

Benjamin J. P. Jones is an Assistant Professor of Physics at UTA.  He received his undergraduate degree from Cambridge University and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His PhD thesis work, which probed the properties of atmospheric neutrinos at the IceCube Neutrino Telescope, was recognized with the Tanaka Dissertation Award from the American Physical Society.  Jones’s research group at UTA focuses on neutrino physics and astrophysics, in particular the nature of neutrino mass, development of barium tagging for neutrinoless double beta decay, and searches for exotic phenomena such as oscillations of sterile neutrinos.

Dr. David Nygren (Presidential Distinguished Professor of Physics)

Dr. Nygren

David R. Nygren a Presidential Distinguished Professor of Physics at UTA. He is known for inventing the Time Projection Chamber, or TPC, used worldwide for over three decades in a variety of applications in particle detection and discovery from relativistic heavy ion collisions to the search for Dark Matter and extremely rare nuclear decays. He is a member of the National Academy of Science; fellow of the American Physical Society; recipient of the Panofsky Prize of the American Physical Society, the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from the Department of Energy, the Berkeley Lab Prize – Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award from the IEEE. Nygren is the co-Spokesperson of the international NEXT collaboration, and has made wide contributions to particle physics including development of the Digital Optical module concept for IceCube Detector, invention of column-based pixel array architecture for high-luminosity applications, invention of low-dose mammography systems, and origination of the QPix concept for efficient sparse readout of large liquid argon TPCs.

David Nygren’s Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_R._Nygren

Dr. Katherine Woodruff (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Dr. Woodruff

Katherine Woodruff is a Postdoctoral Fellow of physics at UTA. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and her PhD from New Mexico State University. Her PhD thesis work involved studying the strange quark spin structure inside the proton using neutrinos from Fermilab’s neutrino beam. Her current research at UTA focuses on large scale RF carpets for barium ion collection, and the development of deep neural network based analysis methods for neutrinoless double beta decay searches.

Dr. Andrew Laing (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Andrew Laing is a postdoctoral researcher in the REST group. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Glasgow where he also studied for his PhD in the experimental particle physics group. His research is focused on the NEXT experiment in which he performs data analysis, focusing on cosmogenic background measurement and suppression and low level detector performance.

Austin McDonald (Graduate Student)

Austin McDonald

Austin McDonald is a graduate research assistant at UTA, he has earned a bachelors in physics from UTA in 2015 and a masters in 2019. During his undergraduate education, Austin was afforded the change to do physics research with Dr. Alex Weiss. During his undergraduate research, Austin developed and calibrated a positron auger electron spectrometer under the guidance of Dr. Alex Weiss. As a graduate student, Austin was able to become the first student on the REST team tasked with determining if “barium tagging” is feasible in high pressure gas. Austin has spent the majority of his time as a graduate student understanding and developing various aspects of gas physics and single molecule microscopy. He is currently developing a high pressure gas macroscope which if achieved would not only be a new type of microscopy but may allow us to realize “barium tagging” and possibly gain insight to the nature of the neutrino mass.

Leslie Rogers (Graduate Student)

Leslie Rogers

Leslie Rogers is a Physics Research Assistant at UTA helping develop experiments that seek to understand the nature of the mass of the neutrino. Understanding this nature could contribute toward the resolution of a persistent cosmological mystery, the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe. Leslie is currently developing an analysis of neutron interactions in xenon, an important source of background in the running NEXT-NEW experiment. She was also rewarded the 2018 Dr. Judith J. Carrier scholarship for leading the design of large electroluminescent amplification regions within the international NEXT collaboration while simultaneously starting and running an ongoing outreach project called Tap Talks-Science Distilled.

Nick Byrnes (Graduate Student)

Nick Byrnes

Nicholas Kaelan Byrnes is a PhD student at University of Texas Arlington studying physics. He graduated cum laude from the University of Texas Arlington in 2018, majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics though the University’s Honors College. He is also a recipient of the University of Texas Arlington Presidential Merit Scholarship. His current area of research is developing and advancing biochemisry techniques to apply to the search for neutrinoless double beta decay through the detection of barium. He was recently awarded second place at the University of Texas Arlington ACES competition for this research, and is a recipient of the Michael and Wanda Ray Fellowship.

Grant Parker (Graduate Student)

Grant Parker

Grant Parker has a Dual Bachelors in Physics and Math from Bard College at Simons Rock. He is a third year grad student at UTA, working remotely at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center. Grant started as a member of NEXT, working on light detection methods and event reconstruction. He later moved on to do analysis in IceCube, looking for signatures of new physics in atmospheric neutrino fluxes. He also explores an understudied process called decoherence, which is the process of quantum objects interacting with an environment and adopting classical behavior.

Benjamin Smithers (Graduate Student)

Ben Smithers

Benjamin R. Smithers is a graduate student working with Dr. Benjamin Jones in physics at UTA. He previously studied at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in both Physics and Mathematics. There, Smithers was awarded the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Award for his work on simulating the effects of beam-induced neutron radiation on calorimetry in the high-radiation forward environment of the proposed International Linear Collider. Now he hopes to use his computational and simulation experience to better understand the sources of systematic error at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.

Logan Norman (Undergraduate Researcher)

Logan Norman is an undergraduate student at UTA and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics as well as mechanical engineering. While studying, Logan also works for the REST (Rare Event Searches & Techniques) research group at UTA, which is led by Dr. Jones. The group’s focus is on finding rare neutrino events, and Logan is building a calibration robot for their experiment from scratch. Logan has always had a passion for building things and learning how everything works, and continues to strive for more knowledge. He plans to further his education by pursuing a PhD in Physics with a focus on nuclear fusion once he completes both bachelor degrees.

Sanmitra Pingulkar (Undergraduate Researcher)

Sanmitra Pingulkar

Sanmitra Pingulkar is a Senior studying Mechanical Engineering at University of Texas at Arlington. He is working as an Engineering assistant in the NEXT collaboration at UTA. His job in this experiment is to design components and part which are required for the NEXT-100 detector.

Akshat Tripathi (Undergraduate Researcher)

Akshat Tripathi

Akshat is an undergraduate student at University of Texas at Arlington and will graduate in Spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics. As a freshman at UTA, he worked on simulating point source objects on X-ray data of Supernova Remnants to set constraints on the cooling mechanism of the unobserved neutron star in core-collapse remnants with Dr. Sangwook Park. As a sophomore and junior, he helped Dr. Jonathan Asaadi with various hardware and software projects to calibrate and construct different parts of LArTPCs. He is currently helping measure the Z coordinate of events using diffusion in NEXT-100 detector. He will begin his PhD in Astronomy at the Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana Champaign fall 2020.

Jacqueline Baeza-Rubio (Undergraduate Researcher)

Jackie Baeza-Rubio

Jacqueline Baeza-Rubio is an undergraduate student researching neutrinoless double-beta decay under Dr. David Nygren and Dr. Ben Jones. Despite being a first year college student, Jackie has been working at UTA for 2 years as a High School intern. At UTA, she is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Physics through the University’s Honors College. Currently, Jackie is working on ion delivery for Barium tagging as well as microscopy in collaboration with the NEXT experiment.

Zach Hinkle (Past Undergraduate Researcher)

Zach Hinkle

Zach is a undergraduate dual major at UTA receiving his BS in Mechanical Engineering and BA in Physics. Before joining the group, he previously worked on the ATLAS collaboration with Dr. Hadavand studying supersymmetry, specifically analyzing possible decay channels for a theorized charged Higgs doublet. He now works with the IceCube collaboration where his current focus is on studying systematic uncertainties caused by the ice surrounding the IceCube detectors. Zach is graduating this May Summa Cum Laude and is taking a position as a stress analyst at Bell Helicopters.

Ryne Dingler (Past Undergraduate Researcher)

Ryne Dingler

Ryne Dingler is an undergraduate physics major with a minor in mathematics at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is an alumni of the Louis Stokes Association for Minority Participation and UTA’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program as well as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. He is the recipient of such awards as the Lockheed Martin Endowed Scholarship, the Chance Vought Endowment, the B. Cecil and J. Thompson Scholarship, the Scharf Award, and the Friends of the UTA Library Scholarship. His research involves topics in astrophysics and high energy physics associated with Dr. Sangwook Park, Dr. Manfred Cuntz, Dr. Benjamin Jones, and Dr. David Nygren. Dingler’s works in astrophysics, analyses in both X-ray and Infrared, have been presented at various undergraduate research conferences. His work in the 2018 summer semester has been published in the McNair Summer Research Journal 2018 under the title, “Massive Star Formation in the Infrared: A Reanalysis of the SOMA Survey,” and is soon to be submitted for professional publication. He is currently involved in UTA’s Rare Event Searches and Techniques group studying the efficiencies of rare gas mixtures for event detection as well as simulations of background cosmogenics for large scale neutrino experiments like the Neutrino Experiment with Xenon TPCs (NEXT) and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). After his Bachelor’s, Dingler intends to pursue a degree in Cosmology/Astrophysics, joining his interests in observational Astrophysics and experimental high energy physics.

Denise Huerta (Past Undergraduate Researcher)

Denise A. Huerta is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas in Arlington. She currently works on UTA’s NEXT (Neutrino Experiment with Xenon TPC’s) research group under the guidance of Dr. Ben Jones. Her work primarily focuses on the design and development of vacuum sealed PDMS membranes for the testing of fluorescent dyes in a completely dry phase. Huerta has recently presented her work at the Conference for Undergraduate Women In Physics as well UTA’s ACES symposium. During her time at UTA, she has also worked at the physics tutoring center and was the manager for the last year. Denise Huerta will be graduating from UTA with a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a minor in Mathematics during the Spring of 2019.