LHC Physics Center connects Fermilab physicists to CERN

Jason St. John

A physics collaboration with 3,000 members from all over the world working on a variety of questions can seem chaotic, but physicist Jason St. John knows, everything has an underlying order.

St. John, a graduate student at Boston University, is one of 70 scientists and graduate students working at Fermilab’s LHC Physics Center. Located on the 11th floor of Wilson Hall, the LPC hosts CMS collaborators as they analyze data coming from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, 4,000 miles away in Geneva, Switzerland.

Fermilab is the host institution for roughly 1,000 CMS scientists from US laboratories and universities. The LPC provides the training and community Fermilab collaborators need to remain vital contributors to the CMS experiment.

St. John, who came to Fermilab last year, is completing his doctoral thesis and analyzing particle collisions from the CMS detector. St. John takes shifts in the Remote Operations Center at Fermilab, where U.S. collaborators monitor data in real time with colleagues at CERN and other laboratories around the world. Discussion via video conference among scientists at the ROC, CMS facilities at CERN, and the German laboratory DESY assist the seamless round-the-clock operation of the CMS experiment.

Scientists in the LPC, such as St. John, also help develop the software needed to analyze CMS data and provide software tutorials for other collaboration members.

The LPC provides weekly workshops and regular conferences and training courses on LHC data analysis.

CMS scientists in the U.S. and abroad attend these training opportunities, which also help graduate and post-graduate students learn to perform and lead data analyses with their colleagues. The work of these young scientists at Fermilab could eventually lead to the discovery of new physics.

“It’s great that we can accomplish so much without leaving the U.S.,” St. John said. “I hope to work at CERN in the future, but while I’m finishing my thesis, this is a lot more convenient.”

– Cynthia Horwitz