Grad Student Zhou, One of Last Physicists at Controls of CDF Experiment

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zhou in the CDF control room

The Tevatron proton-antiproton collider at Fermilab was shut down on September 30. The experiments recording the collision data, CDF and D-zero ceased operation after more than twenty years of producing results that have significantly advanced our understanding of the universe. Chen Zhou, a Duke second-year graduate student, spent the summer at the CDF experiment, funded by a Fermilab University Research Association fellowship. Chen was trained to be one of the expert operators of the CDF experiment, which required taking long shifts maintaining the smooth running of the detector and ensuring high quality data being collected. With the end of the CDF experiment, Chen has the distinction of being one of the last physicists to be in the CDF control room running the experiment. Zhou said "It was a great experience for me since I learned a lot about how the CDF experiment worked. And it was always fun to control the CDF detector and talk with other physicists." Working with Prof. Mark Kruse and Antonio Limosani, a postdoc from the University of Melbourne, Chen also worked on an analysis of the data to look for Higgs bosons decaying to two Z bosons, a preferred decay if the Higgs is heavy enough. Chen studied the effectiveness of applying various multi-variate techniques to discriminate the Higgs signal from background processes. This included comparing techniques such as Neural Networks and Support Vector Machines which attempt to optimally use all the information from a given collection of data to identify a Higgs signal. These analysis techniques will also be useful for searches at the Large Hadron Collider.