by Virginia Greco. Published: 19 November 2018

One of the recipients of the 2018 ALICE Thesis Award, Jaime Norman talked with us about his interests and research activities.

Jaime Norman “discovered” the ALICE experiment when he was still an undergraduate student of physics at the University of Liverpool (UK). He had the occasion to join the local ALICE group to work on an end-of-course project on heavy flavour analysis, which he really enjoyed, thus he later enrolled for a PhD in the same group.

Since then, the main focus of his research has been the measurement of the Λc+baryon. For his undergraduate project, he worked on simulations to understand what configuration of the ALICE Inner Tracking System (ITS) would better allow this measurement, while, during his PhD, he analysed real data to actually perform it. 

The results of this study were published in journals in 2017 and presented in the same year at the Quark Matter conference. Of course, Jaime also reported extensively on them in his PhD thesis, which earned him the 2018 ALICE Thesis Award. “I am very happy for this prize, of course, and that my work was recognised,”Jaime comments. “It was a long and complex analysis.

He spent part of his time as a PhD student at CERN, to perform some hardware activities as well. He participated in the upgrade of the ITS, working on identifying the best procedure and technique to connect the silicon chips to the circuit boards.

Jaime entered heavy-ion physics by chance, thanks to his Bachelor’s degree project, but when he learnt more about this field, he was actually caught up. “Something that I really like about this research is that it comprises many facets,” he explains. “We are interested in studying quantum chromodynamics in heavy ion collisions, but to do it we need to understand every element playing a role in the system and every stage of its evolution: the initial state and how quark and gluons interact in it, the expansion of the medium, the hydrodynamic flow and the hadronization phase. Besides, in order to detect the particles produced at the end of this process, we need to develop very sophisticated detector technologies. All these aspects are very attractive for me, together with the fact that there is still a lot to explore and understand.”

At the moment, Jaime is a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Subatomic Physics & Cosmology (LSPC) in Grenoble (France), where he is continuing his study of the Λc+baryon, using higher-statistics datasets collected during run 2, at different centre-of-mass energies. He has also started a new analysis on jets that recoil from a high pthadron, which are probes for investigating the interactions of jets with the QGP.

I think the upcoming R3 and R4 runs, which will take place after the 2019-2021 shut-down, will be really interesting, because the upgraded ITS and TPC detectors will allow us to make very precise measurements of heavy-flavour observables, such as the Λc+and jets,” Jaime states. “This will certainly help us constrain our understanding of the interactions within the QGP.

He doesn’t know what the next step of his career will be, after the end of the current postdoctoral contract, but he is sure he wants to stay in research. “I enjoy heavy-ion physics, so my plan would be to continue in this field. Though, I am not against changing field either, because I like new challenges and I think there are many interesting research topics to work on.

Jaime is very fond of music and, when he is not at work, you can probably find him at some concert or playing guitar with his folk band. And he is even trying to merge his two passions: music and physics. “I am interested in the interpretation of data in terms of sound and, at the moment, I am trying to compose music using input from the ALICE data.” After the music of the Higgs boson, maybe soon we will have the Quark Gluon Plasma ballad.