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Large Hadron image
One of the first collisions in the CMS detector during testing for the second run of the Large Hadron Collider in late May. Image: CMS/CERN

UT joined world partners today in a new era of research as scientists began recording data from the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator.

The new proton collision data, the first recorded since 2012, will give an international collaboration of researchers its best chance yet to study the Higgs boson, search for dark matter, and develop a more complete understanding of the laws of nature. The team of researchers includes more than 1,700 US physicists.

The Large Hadron Collider reproduces conditions similar to those that existed immediately after the big bang. It is based at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland.

UT students and faculty in physics and nuclear engineering, based on the Knoxville and the UT Space Institute campuses, are part of two teams that are contributing research in this second run of the collider. They are developing electronics and hardware for the ALICE and CMS detectors, and monitoring and examining data collected in experiments.

The research team for ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) studies matter as it existed immediately after the big bang. Soren Sorensen, professor of experimental nuclear physics and program manager for the USA ALICE collaboration, leads UT’s ALICE team. The team includes Christine Nattrass, assistant professor of experimental nuclear physics at UT, and Ken Read, professor of experimental nuclear physics and UT/ORNL joint faculty member, along with graduate students Joel Mazer, Kyle Schmoll, Rebecca Scott, and Andy Castro; postdoctoral researchers Abhisek Sen and Natasha Sharma; and undergraduate student Meg Stuart.

The CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector is tasked with testing the Standard Model and looking for new physics. UT’s CMS team, led by Professor Stefan Spanier, includes postdoctoral researcher Keith Rose and graduate students Grant Riley, Joe Heideman, Krishna Thapa, and Mark Foerster.

Learn more about the data recording from the Large Hadron Collider.
Learn more about UT’s role in the research.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,