Research Story

Erik Minges

Erik Minges
Graduated Spring 2010 | Physics

Measuring the lifetime of the π0 particle with high precision.

" The PRIMEX experiment at Thomas Jefferson National Lab is to measure the lifetime of the π0 particle with high precision.This experiment is a very important test of Quantum Chromodynamics (the theory to describe the strong interaction). The decay photons from the π0's were detected by a high resolution electromagnetic calorimeter (HYCAL) which consists of approximately 2000 channels of PbWO4 crystal detectors. One of the big experimental challenges was to understand the properties of this calorimeter. I was lucky enough to have an internship with my professor Dr. Gan in the summer of 2008. My project was to study the calorimeter through analyzing the data of a 6x6 PbWO4 Crystal Prototype Detector beam test. Using this data, I then performed an energy calibration on the prototype and determined crucial properties of the PbWO4 crystals. I have participated in other research experiences and workshops as an undergraduate as well. In the summer of 2007, I was accepted to be a part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. This program was granted by the Department of Defense ASSURE program. My advisor Dr. Jonathan J. Miles had me work on a project that involved the spectral absorbency of solar cells. I am working hard to earn a B.S. in Physics and Applied Mathematics at UNCW and am planning to graduate with honors in Physics by the spring of 2010. I have also been employed by the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Learning Center as a Physics SI Leader for over a year now. This responsibility has helped me master the basic fundamentals of Physics by sharing my knowledge with other students. Taking part in summer internships has shaped me into a more responsible, driven, studious student. I have learned how to study things at my own pace while meeting crucial project deadlines. I have also been introduced to many new, advanced technologies that I might encounter later in my career. I believe that research opportunities offered to undergraduate scientists provide a critical part of a students overall learning experience, because they gain insight as to what a researcher might encounter in a regular lab type setting. "