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:

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.

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.

Nick Byrnes (Graduate Student)

Nick Byrnes

Nicholas Kaelan Byrnes is a PhD student at University of Texas Arlington studying physics. A recipient of the University of Texas Arlington Presidential Merit Scholarship, 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. His primary field of study during this time was positron surface spectroscopy. His current area of research is developing and advancing biochemistry techniques to apply to the search for neutrinoless double beta decay through the detection of barium. He was awarded second place at the University of Texas Arlington ACES poster competition for this research , and is a recipient of the Michael and Wanda Ray Fellowship, University Scholars Endowment, and James L. Horowitz Physics Scholarship.

Karen Navarro (Graduate Student)

Karen Navarro

Karen Navarro is a graduate student working within the international NEXT collaboration.

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.

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.

Benjamin Smithers (Graduate Student)

Ben Smithers

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

Ben’s GitHub:

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 sophmore year college student, Jackie been worked 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.

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.

Karla Silva (Undergraduate Researcher)

Karla Silva

Karla Silva is a 3rd year undergraduate student at UTA. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in both Biochemistry and Physics. Karla was the 2020 recipient of the Robert F. Francis Award given by the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UTA. Besides school, Karla is also an AVID tutor in Arlington ISD. Currently, she is working under Dr. Jones and aiding in the optical TPC. She hopes to pursue a career in research.

Group Alumni

Austin McDonald (Graduate Student)

Austin McDonald

Austin McDonald was a graduate student in the UTA-REST group. He was leading author on five papers during his PhD, and worked to pioneer barium tagging using single molecule fluorescent imaging, including making the first demonstration of single Ba2+ detection in any medium. He also co-lead studies of the sensitivity of ton-scale NEXT detectors and made important advances in xenon gas microphysics including studying drift and diffusion in xenon-helium mixtures and co-leading development of the PyBoltz project. Austin is now a postdoctoral researcher with a joint position at UTA and Harvard University, working with Profs Jonathan Asaadi, David Nygren and Roxanne Guenette in the QPix Collaboration.

Ryne Dingler (Undergraduate Researcher)

Ryne Dingler

Ryne Dingler was 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. Ryne worked on research on the NEXT experiment, including studies of cosmogenic neutron production and tests of electroluminescent of xenon-argon mixtures. Ryne has accepted a position to work towards his PhD in physics at Southern Methodist University (SMU)

Zach Hinkle (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. Zach worked with us with the IceCube collaboration, studying systematic uncertainties caused by the ice surrounding the IceCube detectors. After leaving the group, Zach accepted a job as a mechanical engineering analyst at Bell Helicopters.

Denise Huerta (Undergraduate Researcher)

Denise A. Huerta worked 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. Denise presented her work at the Conference for Undergraduate Women In Physics as well UTA’s ACES symposium. After leaving the group, Denise moved to Vanderbilt University to pursue graduate physics research using the Large Hadron Collider.

Sanmitra Pingulkar (Undergraduate Researcher)

Sanmitra Pingulkar

Sanmitra Pingulkar was an undergraduate researcher studying Mechanical Engineering at University of Texas at Arlington. He worked 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.

Ibrahim Safa (Undergraduate Researcher)

Ibrahim Safa worked with the UTA-REST group on studies of the South Pole glacial ice optical properties for the IceCube Neutrino Telescope. He travelled to multiple collaboration meetings across the United States to present his work, and it led to a publication in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. After leaving the group, Ibrahim was accepted to pursue his PhD in Physics at the University of Madison, Wisconsin, to work with Francis Halzen, the PI of the IceCube Neutrino Telescope.

Akshat Tripathi (Undergraduate Researcher)

Akshat Tripathi

Akshat was an undergraduate student at University of Texas at Arlington pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics. 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 worked with the UTA-REST group developing techniques to measure the Z coordinate of events using diffusion in NEXT-100 detector. He began his PhD in Astronomy at the Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana Champaign fall 2020.