University of Wisconsin-Madison

2015 GNN Dissertation Prize awarded to van Santen and Yáñez


Jakob van Santen, a former graduate student working on IceCube at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC), and Juan Pablo Yáñez, also working on IceCube at DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) in Zeuthen, were recently awarded a Dissertation Prize from the Global Neutrino Network. This is the first year that the GNN Dissertation Prize has been awarded. It recognizes young postdoctoral candidates who have written an outstanding thesis and contributed significantly to their projects.

Primary criteria for award selection are the scientific quality, pedagogical aspects, and form of the thesis. The prize consists of a certificate, an award of 300 Euro, and a specially designed gift to be handed out at the MANTS meeting, October 17-18, in Amsterdam. There was a third recipient of the prize: Tri Astraatmadja, at Nikhef (the National Institute for Subatomic Physics), in Amsterdam.

In Jakob’s thesis, “Neutrino Interactions in IceCube above 1 TeV: Constraints on Atmospheric Charmed-Meson Production and Investigation of the Astrophysical Neutrino Flux with 2 Years of IceCube Data taken 2010-2012,” he analyzed the energy spectrum and angular distribution of neutrinos that had been recorded with IceCube. His work revealed new, important information about the recently discovered astrophysical neutrinos. A paper with his results was published in Physical Review D 91, 022001 (2105) (see also arXiv:1410.1749).

Juan Pablo Yáñez analyzed atmospheric neutrino events taken with DeepCore, the dense inner part of IceCube. Based on data taken over three years, he derived constraints on oscillation parameters ( and ) which are comparable to those of Super-K. He thereby demonstrated for the first time that a sparsely instrumented Cherenkov detector in a natural target medium can become a competitive player in precision oscillation physics. This is a result which three years ago one would have considered only in the most optimistic dreams. A paper with the results was published in Physical Review D 91, 072004 (2015) (see also arXiv:1410.7227).

The Global Neutrino Network was founded on October 15, 2013, with the goal of coordinating construction, operation, and data analysis of the large neutrino telescopes in deep water and ice. This year, the GNN Dissertation Prize was awarded for the first time. It acknowledges the work of candidates who have contributed significantly to the success of their projects and who have written an outstanding PhD thesis.