University of Wisconsin-Madison

Benjamin Jones awarded APS's Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award

Benjamin Jones, UTA assistant professor of Physics Credit: UTA
Benjamin Jones, UTA assistant professor of Physics Credit: UTA

The American Physical Society has awarded Benjamin Jones, an IceCube collaborator and an assistant professor of physics at the University of Texas at Arlington, the Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award in Experimental Particle Physics, which is widely considered the most prestigious dissertation award in the field.

Jones received the award for his doctoral thesis from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), "Sterile Neutrinos in Cold Climates," which was based on his work with IceCube. His thesis research was performed under the supervision of Janet Conrad, who leads the IceCube team at MIT.

"This award is a great honor and an important recognition for my work at IceCube," Jones said. "But this work would not have been possible without the contributions of many of talented scientists within the IceCube Collaboration, and especially my close collaborators on the sterile neutrino analysis."

Jones' work at IceCube centered on the search for a hypothetical particle, the sterile neutrino. Last year, the IceCube Collaboration published a study in the journal Physical Review Letters that suggested that the sterile neutrino—that had been hinted at in previous experiments in the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector at Los Alamos National Laboratory—does not in fact exist. This work received a lot of international attention both within the expert community and in the media. Jones was one of the principal researchers on this search, which involved studying tens of thousands of atmospheric neutrino events collected by IceCube over two years, to look for fingerprints of the mysterious new particle. There was no trace of the sterile neutrino anywhere. As a result, the researchers ruled out the existence of the sterile neutrino suggested by the Los Alamos experiment at a 99 percent confidence level. This is the strongest constraint to date on this type of particle.

In a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, IceCube researchers may have largely put to rest the notion of a light sterile neutrino. Credit: IceCube Collaboration

+ info Read the UTA release

+ info Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award on APS website.