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Prof Jennifer Thomas
Appointment
  • Professor of Physics
  • Dept of Physics & Astronomy
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
Biography
I received a BSc in physics from Bedford College London in 1981, and a D.Phil from Oxford University in Particle Physics in 1983. My first postdoctoral position was for Imperial College (at DESY, Hamburg 1983-1985) and then I was a CERN fellow from 1985-1989 where I worked on the Time Projection Digitizer (TPC) for ALEPH. I was a Wissenschaflicher Angestellter at Max Planck Institut, Muenchen, from 1989-1991 from where I took up a Staff Scientist position at the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory in Dallas Texas. I returned to Oxford University in 1994 as a Research Officer working on the MINOS proposed experiment which I brought to UCL in 1997.
Research Groups
Research Summary

My research interests have been varied. My thesis involved a study of b quark semi-leptonic branching fractions and B meson lifetimes at the TASSO experiment on the PETRA e+e- storage ring. At CERN I first participated in the building of the TPC on ALEPH at LEP and then analyzed the data taken to search for the very light Higgs boson. At the SSC, I worked mainly on detector development, building interpolating pad chambers with a position resolution of 40 microns. I also appraised the possibility of the two SSC detectors measuring longitudinal WW scattering, the so called `no-lose scenario' put forward at the time.

During the period since I arrived at UCL I have been working on the MINOS long-baseline neutrino oscillation experiment. This sends a beam of muon neutrinos through the earth from the Fermi National Accelerator Center (FNAL) to the Soudan Iron Mine in Northern Minnesota. The beam is measured at FNAL and at Soudan and differences in the flavour content and energy spectrum are measured. Our first result was published in 2006 which confirmed the presence of neutrino oscillations and measured the parameters of the mixing. Since then, we have taken much more data and now have the best measurement in the world of the difference in mass squared of the two mass eigenstates involved in the oscillation or mixing. More exciting physics from MINOS is to come in the next year or two.

During the last few years I have also been contributing to a new neutrinoless double beta decay experiment called SuperNEMO. Looking for this very rare process is the only way to ascertain whether neutrinos are Dirac particles (their anti-particle is distinct from their particle like all the other fermions) or Majorana particles (the anti-particle and particle are the same). This has involved learning a whole new field of low background physics with the existing NEMO-III detector and now the UCL group is playing a leading role in the design of the new SuperNEMO detector.

Academic Background
1983 DPhil Doctor of Philosophy – Nuclear and Particle Physics University of Oxford
1980 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Physics University of London
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