Recovery Act funds young U. of Colorado, LBNE physicist
Alysia Marino always knew she'd be a scientist of some kind. Still, it's something of a happy accident she ended up in physics.
"I think I was too klutzy for chemistry and too squeamish to really cut things open," she said. Physics required neither a steady hand nor a strong stomach, and so far the choice has proved a fruitful one for the University of Colorado assistant professor. Marino was recently awarded a five-year, $750,000 early career research grant from the Department of Energy, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Marino will focus on long-baseline neutrino research-first, for Japan's T2K experiment, then for Fermilab's Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment. For the LBNE, Marino will concentrate on neutrinos and how to better measure their fraternal twins-muons-when they're fresh out of the beam source and beginning their journey.
The New Jersey native first encountered particle physics as a Princeton undergrad studying rare kaon decay. "It was the first time I really learned about how you detect all these short-lived particles," she said. She was hooked.
From particles that disappear in the blink of an eye, Marino moved on to particles as hardy as a Galapagos tortoise, but far more difficult to see: neutrinos. The mysterious particles can traverse vast reaches of space and stream through miles of solid rock without a single interaction.
Marino pursued neutrino research through a Ph.D. at Berkeley, and post-doc positions at Fermilab's MINOS and T2K at the University of Toronto. She began teaching at the University of Colorado in January 2009.
Marino is still not over the surprise of her recent award. You could hear a smile in her voices; she said, "It's a very valuable thing to a young physicist trying to establish a research program."
-- Andrea Mustain