I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at The Ohio State University Center for Cosmology and Astro-particle Physics (CCAPP). The goal of my research is to build experiments that detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays and neutrinos. Ultra-high energy (UHE) neutrinos may originate from the GZK process, during which a cosmic ray nucleus interacts with the cosmic microwave background (CMB), producing secondary particles like neutrinos. Neutrino astrophysics is particularly interesting, because the neutral charge of UHE neutrinos implies that they would propagate directly from the cosmogenic source, rather than scatter or decay in the intermediate space. This could allow for the identification of the source of cosmic rays, a 100-year old mystery in astro-particle physics.
The Askaryan Radio Array (ARA) is an Antarctic detector based at the South Pole. ARA hopes to detect the radio-frequency (RF) signature of a neutrino interaction in ice via the Askaryan effect, in which the collective negative charges stripped from ice atoms radiates an electromagnetic pulse. Similarly, the Antarctic Ross Ice Shelf Antenna Neutrino Array (ARIANNA) searches for these signals in Moore’s Bay, Antarctica. Both projects are under construction, and preliminary data analyses are being performed.
A brand new project, currently being designed here at CCAPP, in conjunction with the Crayfis collaboration (http://crayfis.io), has been dubbed The BuckArray. The BuckArray will be comprised of custom RF channels, along with Android smartphone devices that detect cosmic ray muons via the smartphone camera. By comparing hit times between RF and smartphone channels, background rejection can be made strong enough to detect cosmic ray air showers initiated by protons in the upper atmosphere.