Christine Nattrass

Christine Nattrass I'm a postdoctoral research associate in heavy ion physics at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. I received my Ph.D. from Yale University in 2009 on the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. I got my bachelor's degree with majors in physics, biochemistry, and physical science and minors in chemistry, math, and German at Colorado State University. I live in Knoxville, but travel frequently to CERN, where I am a member of the ALICE experiment. I also collaborate on the PHENIX experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.

In ALICE, I work on the electromagnetic calorimeter and on jet physics. ALICE was designed to study heavy ion collisions, specifically a phase of matter called the quark gluon plasma (QGP) that existed shortly after the Big Bang. (Both ATLAS and CMS have heavy ion programs too, but ALICE is optimized for heavy ion collisions.) The nuclei of atoms are made up of protons and neutrons, and protons and neutrons are made up of quarks and gluons. To make a QGP we heat up nuclei (by accelerating them to high speeds and smashing them together) until quarks and gluons are no longer confined in individual nuclei. We are studying the QGP in order to better understand the phase diagram of nuclear matter.

I brew my own beer, wine, mead, and hard cider—to get some use out of my bachelor's in biochemistry, of course. I am an avid cook and I've recently gotten into making sour dough, for which I have dozens of strains of yeast on my kitchen. I loved bike riding before I lived in the Netherlands for five months and after I came back I was a fanatic. I run and weight lift, in part to keep me healthy given my rock-and-roll physicist lifestyle. I love hiking and really enjoy being close to the Smoky Mountains. I used to play cello, guitar, and sing; some day, when I once again have spare time, I will do this again on a regular basis.