Jason St. John

Jason St. John, pictured here in the MicroBooNE clean tent, works on the MicroBooNE experiment. Photo courtesy of Jason St. John

NAME:
Jason St. John

WHICH UNIVERSITY DID YOU ATTEND?
Boston University

WHO WAS YOUR ADVISOR?
James Rolfe

ON WHICH EXPERIMENT DO YOU WORK?
MicroBooNE

WHAT IS YOUR RESEARCH FOCUS?
I’m helping to answer the question, “What’s going on with those neutrinos?” They can’t have mass the same way as all the other particles of matter. And what’s up with the way that the three masses have such similar probabilities to interact as one of the three flavors?

Lots of challenges must be met to answer these questions (which is what I actually spend my time working on).

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN PARTICLE PHYSICS?
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as particle physics at the time, but at age 12 I wound up spreading the volumes of our Encyclopædia Britannica across the floor, all open to the cross-referenced articles on subatomic particles. At the time, I was totally unclear on what the rules were that explained all these decays and particle properties, and I just wanted to find out more. The decays and a few of the particles I can explain now, and if I could explain the rest of it, well, that’s worth a Nobel Prize!

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE OR 10 YEARS?
Either living in a hole a few kilometers under South Dakota or some place equally compelling. Hard to tell what opportunities life will bring, but I’m excited.

DURING GRAD SCHOOL, WHAT WAS THE MOST UNUSUAL OR EXCITING THING YOU DID OUTSIDE OF PHYSICS?
Being stationed at CERN made it possible to explore nearby places when cheap flights appeared. With a few friends, I got to explore cities like Marrakesh and Porto for a few days each, at different times. Hard to choose between the appeal of seeing the world and hikes into the surrounding mountains. I really wish we had some of those here. “Fermilab-by-the-Mountains” sounds good, right? Totally worth the pile of email waiting for me when I got back to the lab.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?
Anything but rest. Both of my experiments, MicroBooNE and LArIAT, are getting under way in a serious way these days. Getting experiments up and running is about the most fun you can have legally.