by Ian Randall. Published: 03 November 2010

Each issue, Matters will cast the spotlight on some of the many people in ALICE, as a celebration of the individuals within the collaboration. This issue, we interviewed Ayben Karasu Uysal, from Istanbul’s Yildiz Technical University, and Natasha Sharma, of Panjab University, Chandigarh - two students who work on data analysis.

Ian Randall

Natasha Sharma, left, and Ayben Karasu Uysal at her whiteboard, right.

How long have you been at ALICE?

Natasha - I've worked here for the last four years.

Ayben - Yes, me too.

What do you do?

Natasha - These days I am studying anti-nuclei and nuclei production in proton-proton collisions using ALICE data. Before this I worked for the hardware, at point 2, for the PMD [Photon Multiplicity Detector – Ed]. PMD is the Indian detector in the ALICE experiment.

Ayben - I’ve always worked on data analysis. I'm looking for ?++(1232) particles and K*(892) resonance particles. These are produced from proton-proton collisions. The ?++(1232) particles decay into protons and pions. I select these protons and pions (or kaons and pions for K*) and match the two together, and if these two particles produce a peak at some point I think that “Yes, I’ve found a signal!”

Natasha - We both are working with the same people here, with Helmut Oeschler and Jean-Pierre Revol.

These days I am looking for antimatter - anti-deuterons, anti-tritons, anti-Helium3 and anti-Hypertritons. I study the anti-nuclei produced from proton-proton collisions - In 120 million events I saw only 10 anti-tritons and 10 anti-Helium3!

Ayben - I'm lucky. I have many, many particles. I am just looking for particles; Natasha is looking for nuclei, which are heavier, and so my multiplicity is higher than hers.

Why is that?

Ayben - It’s because my particles are lighter than hers. In the collisions, if the particles have a lower mass the probability of producing them becomes higher.

What did you do before you came to ALICE?

Natasha – A masters. I’m now pursuing my PhD. For me, in my childhood, science always went above my head - during my bachelors things were not so clear, either: most of the things we had to cram. After I started my PhD the things that I read in my childhood become clearer and clearer. Physics makes us think “Why is this happening?”

Ayben - First, in my bachelors, I started to study mine engineering. Then, after one year, I went to a mine and I thought: “No, this job is not for me. I don't want to play with these stones here!” I thought that I should find more exciting things. I really like physics because you can find the answers, like what matter is made of and why we are here. I'm really happy.

What do you enjoy when you're not doing physics?

Natasha - I like cooking, listening to music, and singing. I like writing poetry sometimes.

Ayben - I hate cooking! I love reading books and watching movies.

Can we hear you sing, Natasha?

Natasha - No.

Do you have any good stories from your time at ALICE?

Ayben - I have. Can you see this whiteboard? This came here only for me. Because my adviser, Jean-Pierre, comes here and asks me questions - and after one or two I mix everything up!

So he called the secretariat and said to order a white board here. He tells me “when you are in front of the whiteboard you will understand everything!” I can just look there and remember very easily.

What do you like about working at ALICE?

Natasha - At least for me, it is my pleasure. I am very lucky to be here. I have learnt a lot. ALICE is a large collaboration; It is a very exciting experience to work with so many people from different countries and to learn about their cultures. People here are very co-operative and the working environment is very good.

Ayben - I feel proud to be here. We always get to study with experts. Every day we are learning new things. Working at CERN is a really great experience; I don’t know anywhere that is this international. You can meet anyone from any country and talk to them and learn. For instance, I didn't know anything about India before I met Natasha and now I know many, many things. This is a really great experience.




I loved this interview! Science has been above my head through school as well, and it's encouraging for me to see that someone who kept at it and succeeded. My study of science is purely a hobby, but I would like to excel in it someday. Natasha and Ayben are great roll models! Keep up the great work ladies!!

Sarah C.