Working in neutrino physics11th April 2018
I started working in neutrino physics by accident.
When I was at University as a student, I was collaborating with a nuclear theory group (yes, this means I can also program in FORTRAN!). This was an amazing group for many reasons.
When I finished my degree, I was still collaborating with them and I expected that I would do my Ph.D. with them. However, this was during the worst years of an economic crisis in Spain and theory groups were not being funded for students or postdocs. The professor I was working with suggested I move into experimental particle physics (where there was more funding). This is how I discovered a neutrino group in Barcelona.
What is most attractive to me about neutrino physics is that it requires knowledge of both particle and nuclear physics. Neutrino experiments are also smaller collaborations than others, like hadron collider physics. Since there are fewer people involved, I can see the direct impact of my work (no pun intended) to the experiment. The neutrino physics community is kind of a family.
When I was close to finishing my Ph.D., I saw a paper on electron-photon separation by the ArgoNEUT collaboration (a very big challenge in particle identification). I excitedly imagined a variety of study opportunities for particle detection, neutrino, and nuclear physics. To me it was a natural decision. When I finished my Ph.D., I was adamant that I would join the Fermilab neutrino group for the liquid argon program. I had done my Ph.D. in neutrino interactions on carbon, moving on to argon meant a much larger nucleus and a bigger challenge!