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Three Minute Thesis: The Art of the Fast Pitch  

Fifteen Stony Brook University graduate students shared the insight and analysis of their work as part of a program sponsored by the Graduate Student Organization, the Career Center and the Graduate School and supported by The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The Three Minute Thesis competition, or 3MT as it is also known, challenges graduate students to present their dissertation findings to an audience in 180 seconds.

The 3MT is an international event founded at the University of Queensland in Australia to teach grad students how to pitch research projects by sharpening their communication skills. Among the key objectives of the coaches from the nationally renowned Alda Center was to show the students how to make their message vivid and engaging while still communicating the essential points.

This year, the first prize went to Zoya Vallari. She studies tiny fundamental particles called neutrinos. Neutrinos are some of the most enigmatic particles as their behavior deviates from the most comprehensive and successful model of particle physics - the Standard Model. They come in 3 varieties and change from one kind to another as they travel. This phenomenon is known as the Neutrino Oscillation.

Vallari is a member of the Neutrino and Nucleon decay (NN) Group under the supervision of Prof. C. K. Jung. She works with over 400 physicists from 11 different countries on T2K experiment. This experiment studies one of the three varieties of Neutrino Oscillation – muon neutrino to electron neutrino. They send a beam of muon neutrinos traveling 300 kilometers through the earth, from the east coast and detect them at the west coast of Japan.

Neutral Current Single Pi0 (NC1Pi0) particles have a similar footprint in the detector as an electron neutrino and thus it can be easy to mistake the two. Hence, these particles form a dominant background to electron neutrino signal. Vallari's study of these interactions will help calculate the number of Pi0 particles that are expected in the detector so that they can accurately measure the number of electron neutrinos that were produced due to oscillations. This gives a better precision on the mixing angles of neutrinos.

A very high precision comparison of neutrino vs. antineutrino oscillations is needed to calculate CP violation, which would help the scientific community determine why is there an extra matter particle to every billion matter-antimatter pair (matter-antimatter asymmetry) in the universe. It was this tiny fraction of extra matter particles that forms all known matter around us. "

See more here.

Zoya is also actively involved with the department and campus, serving as the president of the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering, member of the Physics and Astronomy Diveristy committee, etc. See her input in the Stony Brook Press "Breaking Boundaries, Home and Abroad".


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