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  Cristiana Principato   Cristiana Principato
Graduate Student , Experimental High Energy Physics
M.S. in Nuclear and Subnuclear P, 2014, University of Rome Tor Vergata

cp2vk@Virginia.EDU email   924-6592 tel 107 JBL Office

My greatest passion has always been particle physics.

In particular, I find it very exciting to study particle physics through cosmic rays, because they are mysterious particles that come from outer space, they have energies we cannot reach with laboratory experiments, and they provide clues about what is happening in outer space.

For my bachelor thesis, I searched for a hypothetical kind of matter, strange quark matter, in cosmic rays.

For my master thesis, I searched for exotic decays of the Higgs boson with the CDF detector.

Now I am investigating the existence of low-mass dark matter particles (WIMPs) produced in the core of the sun with the NOvA detector.

The NOvA collaboration has constructed a 14,000 ton, fine-grained, low- Z, total absorption tracking calorimeter at an off-axis angle to an upgraded NuMI neutrino beam. This detector, with its excellent granularity and energy resolution and relatively low-energy neutrino thresholds, was designed to observe electron neutrino appearance in a muon neutrino beam, but it also has unique capabilities suitable for more exotic efforts. In fact, with an efficient upward-going muon trigger and sufficient background suppression offline, NOvA will be capable of a competitive indirect dark matter search for low-mass WIMPs. Interesting atmospheric neutrino measurements should also be possible. The cosmic ray muon rate at the NOvA far detector is about 150 kHz and provides the primary challenge for triggering and optimizing such a search analysis.

Earlier this month, Cristiana Principato, a UVa graduate student in the Physics Department, had the opportunity to meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when he visited the Fermi ......More >