One physics student at The University of New Mexico is kicking off 2023 by contributing to the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world.

Physics & Astronomy Ph.D. student Hijas Farook has been chosen for an ATLAS Center fellowship.

Hijas Farook

He will spend six months at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in New York researching particle physics instrumentation. 

In doing so, Hijas will play a key role in improving future particle collider experiments, which could help determine the origin of the cosmos. 

The ATLAS Center is a resource centered on the ATLAS experiment, being conducted with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Hijas's research will help the development of semiconductor tracking detectors for ATLAS particle experiments at CERN. This includes finding answers for the most existential puzzles of physics, including forces of nature and the basic components of light and dark matter.

“I am excited to be a part of a new detector technology that will push the limits of particle physics knowledge,” he said. “We will use it to explore the most basic building blocks of the universe.”

The detector, Hijas said, could also improve data collection techniques in other fields like medicine and biology.

Particle physics research from Hijas will incorporate precision measurement and data from the LHC. By seeing what happens when protons crash into each other, at the speed of light, researchers can roughly recreate mini ‘Big Bang’ scenarios. Replicating this could show what particles played a role in the initial Big Bang, which formed the universe.

UNM has already played a distinguished role with the ATLAS Center and LHC. Lobo team members helped discover an entirely new particle based on ATLAS data, which causes things in the universe to have mass. 

 “I am also looking forward to working with some of the pioneers of this new technology and learning from them at BNL,” Hijas said. 

Hijas is also honored for the part he will play in the diversification of physics careers.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my project is the educational program which will open doors to science for people who have had limited exposure to it up to now," he said.

Learn more about the unique research Farook will be part of at the ATLAS Center and the Large Hadron Collider, or the Department of Physics and Astronomy