Doing a PhD with the ATLAS Group

The ATLAS group is looking for new students! We’re a large and dynamic group of approximately 50 people including faculty members, lab scientists, postdocs, grad and undergrad students, and more. We have a broad research program currently including a large range of Standard Model measurements and searches for new physics, hardware R&D currently focussed on the upgrade of the ATLAS Inner Tracker for HL-LHC, and software and computing, including research and development towards usage of novel hardware and software. Our students typically participate in a few different areas of research as part of their PhD thesis.

Potential Supervisors

In addition to our three faculty members, Heather Gray, Marjorie Shapiro and Haichen Wang, we also have graduate students doing PhDs with scientists at LBNL. Here are some details about some members of the group who are looking for new students, so please feel free to get in touch with us if you’re interested and have any questions.

  • Heather Gray,,
    • Possible projects with me include: searches for the coupling of the Higgs boson to charm quarks, using novel approaches from machine learning to identify charm quarks, development of new charged particle track reconstruction algorithms.
  • Zach Marshall,
    • Possible projects with me include searches for new physics (particularly Supersymmetry) in scenarios with difficult-to-identify signals or large backgrounds. I’m also interested in a variety of software problems that face the ATLAS collaboration.
  • Simone Pagan-Griso,
    • Possible projects with me include: searches for new long-lived particles with dedicated reconstruction algorithms; measurement of standard-model quartic gauge couplings and searches for beyond-standard-model particles in purely electromagnetic proton-proton interactions; development of charged particle reconstruction algorithms.
  • Haichen Wang,
    • Possible projects with me include: measurement of Higgs boson coupling, differential cross sections, other properties (CP, mass, width, etc), search for exotic production and decay of the Higgs boson; search and measurement of rare processes four top quark production, exclusive three top quark production. Focus is on processes not yet well studied and measurements where significant improvements can be made.

Current Grad Students

If you’d like to hear about working in the ATLAS group from the perspective of a current graduate student, please feel free to get in contact with any of us:

  • Cesar Gonzalez Renteria,
    • I work on a measurement of Z boson production in association with a charm jet (Z+c). This measurement serves as a gauge of an intrinsic charm quark component in the nucleon as well as a measure of the charm parton distribution function. It is also a major background to Higgs production in association with a charm jet (H+c) and Higgs plus Z (H+Z) production.
  • Patrick McCormack:
    • My thesis project is a search for and measurement of photon-induced WW production at the LHC, which is an important probe of the Electroweak sector of the Standard Model. Many of the projects I have participated in at LBL involve the development of tracking algorithms, machine learning, QCD physics, and silicon sensors.
  • Greg Ottino:
    • My name is Greg and I’ve been working with the ATLAS group since 2017. My PhD topic covers precision measurements of the bosons and charm quarks. These measurements provide an important window into understanding the distribution of quarks inside the proton, as well as laying the groundwork for charm physics studies in the future.
  • Ryan Roberts,
    • I’m working with other members of the Berkeley ATLAS group to explore potential uses of graphical neural networks in data analysis and use this technique to study the interaction between the top quark and the Higgs boson. I’m also testing front-end data acquisition software for upgraded silicon strip detector ATLAS will install for the HL-LHC.
  • Neha Santpur,,
    • My research focuses on searching for long-lived particles that decay into photons using ATLAS Run-2 data. The ATLAS electromagnetic calorimeter provides a very precise time of arrival of photons (O(100ps)) and also photon pointing (O(20mm) for prompt photons in central eta). This enables us to look for the above mentioned long-lived particles using delayed and non-pointing photons in the final state. More information can be found in the Run-1 paper linked here: Previous work: I have worked on the reliability measurement of the powerboard for TK Strip detector upgrade as part of my ATLAS qualification task.
  • Irina Ene,
    • I recently joined the Berkeley ATLAS group and have been working on a machine learning plugin for the ACTS toolkit that can be used to distinguish which reconstructed tracks belong to real particles. As part of my ATLAS qualification task I am working on commissioning the implementation of a fast tracking reconstruction algorithm in the track reconstruction chain for the new ITk detector.
  • Junwen Xiong (Robin),
    • My name is Robin (Xiong, Junwen) and I joined the group in 2020 Fall. As my ATLAS qualification task, I’ve been working on commissioning the x-ray machine in the lab with other group members to do irradiation tests on ITkPix-V1 chips, the pixel detector readout chip for the HL-LHC upgrade. For my thesis project, I will focus on measuring the cross sections of gluon splitting to charm and Higgs to charm, which is an important test of the Standard Model and our understanding of the Higgs.
  • Johannes Wagner,
    • My primary research interest lies in the application of machine learning techniques to problems in experimental high-energy physics. I just joined the ATLAS group at Berkeley and my current project involves the development of a Graph Neural Network (GNN) to improve our secondary-vertex reconstructions and help increase our Charm tagging efficiency.

See here for details about the thesis topics for previous grad students and where they are today.