by Virginia Greco. Published: 13 March 2017

Jihye Song, Ph.D. student at the Pusan National University of Korea and member of the ALICE collaboration, was selected with other seven young researchers over 300 poster presenters to give a flash talk at the Quark Matter 2017 Conference.

The flash talk session of the Quark Matter 2017 Conference - held in Chicago, February 5-11 - was opened by Jihye Song, Ph.D. student at the Pusan National University of Korea and member of the ALICE collaboration.

She participated in the Conference with a poster on “Production of Σ(1385)± and Ξ(1530)0 measured by ALICE in pp, p-Pb and Pb-Pb collisions at the LHC”, which was one of the few (eight over almost 300) selected for a short oral presentation. Quark Matter is the most important international conference in the field of heavy-ion physics, hence giving a talk in such occasion means getting visibility within the community. In addition, being chosen among so many candidates is a notable achievement for a young researcher.

Jihye joined ALICE in the summer 2010 when she was a graduate student. She started working in the VHMPID (Very High Momentum Particle Identification Detector) project, which allowed her to gain the valuable experience of performing beam test on a detector prototype. She also entered the CBM (Compressed Baryonic Matter) collaboration in GSI and spent some time at the laboratory in Darmstadt.

Fascinated by heavy-ion physics, she embarked on Ph.D. studies within ALICE, which she started in March 2012 and plans to complete by next summer. This gave her the possibility to spend two years at CERN, experience that she loved and not only for its intrinsic scientific value: “I have really enjoyed my staying in Europe,” Jihye comments, “I loved living in the area around CERN because I find it beautiful and people are very friendly.”

In ALICE she is studying the physics of cascade particles (a family of baryons that contain one up or down quark and two more massive quarks, either strange, charm, or bottom), in particular the Ξ* resonance. At the previous edition of Quark Matter, held in 2016 in Darmstadt, she had already shown the results of this analysis, performed on data from p-Pb collisions. This year she extended the scope of her study, including results from the analysis on Pb-Pb data, in which it is more difficult to identify the signal and isolate it from the background. She is also interested in studying the particle yield ratio, comparing analysis results and model predictions, topic that was also mentioned in her presentation at QM 2017.

“When I was informed that I was selected for a flash talk, I was excited and I received the congratulations of many of the young researchers who were there, who I know well since I am part of the Committee of the ALICE Junior members”, Jihye recounts smiling, “that was a great feeling”. She received the notice on Thursday night, so she rushed to get prepared for her short talk on Saturday.

Now Jihye is back in Korea to concentrate on the writing of her thesis and its defence, but she is already planning to go back to CERN next summer and look for a postdoc. “I don’t have a postdoc position yet,” she explains, “but I would like to keep doing research and to remain in the field. I will try to stay in ALICE for a while, because there are still many things to be investigated, but later on I would be happy to move to some other heavy-ion experiment, such as STAR, or to join the heavy-ion programme of CMS”.

She admits to enjoying the atmosphere of big laboratories, but actually becoming a professor in a University is her dream. During her Ph.D. she had the occasion to give some lectures to freshmen at her home institution and found this experience particularly stimulating and rewarding.

Does she have some other passion besides physics and teaching? Yes. “I love drawing and painting. I learned by myself. I really enjoy colour painting in general and lately I am also exploring oriental style.”