Emily Smith

Headshot of Emily Smith

Student Spotlight | March 2015

Major: Physics, Interdisciplinary Computing

Describe your work in a few sentences that we can all understand: My research is in the realm of particle physics, ranging from the study of specific particle decay patterns and the analysis of simulations of theoretical particles, to a summer spent at CERN (The European Organisation for Nuclear Research), a physics lab in Geneva, Switzerland, where I worked with the machine used by the CMS experiment to detect the particles from proton-proton collisions. I have also helped to simulate future detectors for the CMS experiment that could help decrease the number of undetected particles in a collision.

Q: Who mentors your project?

Dr. Phil Baringer and Dr. Alice Bean.

Q: What surprised you about doing research?

I was surprised by the variability of research. Even within the High Energy Physics (HEP) group here at KU there are a huge number of topics to be studied and analyzed. I was also surprised by how much the professors were willing to work with the students. I started research with the physics department my freshman year, and I came in knowing almost nothing about particle physics. The professors and graduate students spent a lot of time helping me learn how to run multiple software systems, as well as some of the theory behind what I was doing.

Q: What do you like most about your research?

Personally, I really enjoy learning more about how particles interact with each other. Since the particles in the Standard Model (the currently accepted theory in the physics community) make up all the matter we deal with on a daily basis (as well as much of the matter that makes up the universe) I find it extremely interesting to learn about how these particles behave in various conditions.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

Don't hesitate! Don't wait to get involved because you don't think you know enough, or for any reason really. The people in your lab/research group will help you catch your bearings, and you will learn more than you ever could have hoped!


Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working on your research?

I love to read, so I spend a lot of time doing that! I'm a member of Theta Tau, a profession engineering fraternity at KU, and of University Band, so I spend a lot time with both of those organizations as well. I also hang out with friends, and try to make it to KU basketball games!