Rice University Bloggers

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Six graduate and undergraduate students from Rice University in Houston, Texas are spending the summer of 2009 at CERN. The group will share their experiences working on different aspects of the CMS experiment through the US LHC blogs. Learn more about the group members below.

Elie Amram Bengio

I am a sophomore undergraduate student working for Professor Paul Padley. At CERN I am working with the Cathode Strip Chamber (CSC) team. I work with engineers from Russian institutes, 300 feet underground in the experimental cavern. I also take shifts for the CSC subsystem in the control room, during which I monitor the state of the experiment and take data runs.

Rice University Bloggers
Members of the Rice University group in the CMS control room. From left: Patrick El-Hage, Diego Caballero, Robert Brockman II, James Zabel.
I feel like I've been extremely fortunate to work in this position, as the people I work with often pause to give me a brief but essential insight into the many links between the hardware and software at CMS. It's been a great opportunity for me to learn more, not only in the field of electronics while I work underground, but also in the field of computer science. I also feel privileged to be working on the LHC, the largest scientific experiment in the world, which holds the promises for significant breakthroughs in the field of physics.



Robert Brockman

A retired UNIX system administrator, I have returned to Rice to finish up my bachelor's degree in computer science after 15 years in industry. At CERN, I'm helping Professor Karl Ecklund by writing some monitoring code for CMS's pixel system. After doing my part for physics, I eventually hope to work in the artificial intelligence field.

Diego Caballero

I was born and raised in Spain, where I discovered that physics was the field I wanted to pursue an education in. I was lucky enough to have the chance to go to Rice University, where I will obtain a B.S. in physics with an option in computational physics in May 2010.

I currently work with the Rice group on the CMS experiment at the LHC, the biggest machine ever built by mankind! I am working in the Pixel group, where I'm trying to reconstruct the traces left by particles based on simluated data. I've been at CERN for a few weeks, and I'm still at awe at the magnitude of the experiment I'm involved with.

Patrick El-Hage

Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, I've been wanting to be a physicist since the age of about 12. The deciding moment was when I began to wonder "what lies beyond stars?". At the age of 17, I was off to Texas to begin an undergraduate eduction in computational physics at Rice University. I'm now entering my fourth year at Rice, where with the help of Professor Paul Padley I landed an internship at CERN for the summer.

Jafet Morales
Jafet Morales in front of the CMS detector.

Jafet Morales

I am a second-year graduate student working for Professor Paul Padley at Rice University. I graduated with a B.A. in Physics and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. My undergraduate thesis had to do more with robotics than physics, but I decided to study particle physics in graduate school because I like the idea of trying to understand how the universe works and what it is made of.  I also believe that the skills people acquire while building a big machine such as CMS can be applied in industry. My current research has to do with the Level 1 Trigger of the CMS detector, specifically the Cathode Strip Chambers. My short term goal is to understand how the data from the drift tubes in the barrel relates to the data obtained in the Cathode Strip Chambers of the end cap in the region were the two subdetectors overlap.


James Zabel

I was born in New York, but consider myself a native of Texas.  I graduated from the University of Texas with a B.S. in math and physics, and this fall I begin graduate studies in physics at Rice University.  This summer I am working at CERN on the CMS project, where I am assisting with the Pixel Detector.  I enjoy exploring new cities when I have the opportunity to travel, and the occasional beer with friends.  I am a self-proclaimed nerd, but few of my friends actually believe me.  Perhaps their perspectives will change after a few years of graduate school!