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2013 Joukowsky Dissertation Prize Profile: After Higgs, A Search for New Physics

May 24, 2013
The search for a heavy top-like quark

Michael Luk, right, with adviser Ulrich Heintz: “By not finding evidence for the T-quark, we are setting restrictions on an entire class of new theories and influencing this entire field of research.” Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

In particle physics, not finding a particle can narrow the search and guide new theories. Michael Luk’s Joukowsky Prize-winning dissertation, The Search for a Heavy Top-Like Quark, describes the most comprehensive search ever carried out for a particle that could answer puzzling questions about the nature of the Higgs boson.

For all the fanfare last summer surrounding the Higgs boson, it might have seemed like the search for new elementary particles had come to a triumphant end. The Higgs was, after all, the last missing piece in the Standard Model of particle physics. But even with the big prize bagged, they won’t be boarding up the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) anytime soon.

Despite the Higgs discovery — and partly because of the Higgs — the search for new physics beyond the Standard Model is just getting started. Michael Luk, a Ph.D. candidate in physics and one of four 2013 winners of the Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Prize, spent the last two years as part of that search. His award-winning dissertation outlines his work at the LHC in search of a hypothetical particle called a T-quark. If such a particle exists, it could answer some puzzling questions about the Higgs boson and the universe itself.

Read more of Kevin Stacey's article about Michael Luk.