Ana Ventura Barros
Ana Ventura Barros
16 June 2022
In 2012 I was in my last year of high school trying to figure out what I wanted to be. I wanted to study medicine since I was 6 and that’s the reason I chose my subjects focus on natural science, I had biology, chemistry maths and physics. It was the first time I was in contact with physics and thanks to my teacher at that time I fall in love with it.
Then I started struggling wondering what I would prefer to study, physics or medicine. In Catalonia, for finishing the high school you have to carry a research project, and I knew I wanted my physics teacher as a supervisor. He knew that I was really interested in medicine but that I also like physics so he proposed me a topic for my project: radioactivity applied to medicine.
For this project I needed to understand, in a deeper way than what is explained in high school, the standard model. Therefore he propose me to apply for a programme called International masterclasses: hands on particle physics. It was a program for high school students interested in physics which consisted on spending one day on a university (in my case University of Barcelona), where they explained you the basis of particle physics, the LHC and how detectors work. After the theoretical basis, they explained the measurement that we had to perform, which in my case consisted on looking for a particle with a mass around 125GeV.
This workshop was the first time I heard the word Higgs boson. I learnt that we saw this particle in our measurement but I didn’t understand much at that time, it was March 2012.
After the workshop I was really excited, I learned a lot about particle physics and I was really considering studying physics but I was still not sure. I think my parents and my friends were really tired of me talking about this workshop all the time.
Only some months later, on July, there was this crazy media release about the Higgs boson. I saw it in the news at home with my parents, and we looked at each other like wait you “discover” that particle on your workshop. And I was so excited because I felt part of it, I felt I helped discovering the Higgs boson. Then I knew that I wanted to be a particle physicist.
On September this year I started my bachelor degree in physics in University of Barcelona. I remember it was hard at a times, lots of hours studying with my friends, some failed exams… But I always remembered the feeling of being part of such a big discovery and it helped me to fight for my dream, which was to become a scientist and work at CERN.
In my last year of bachelor, I fulfill part of my dream, I was accepted for an internship at CERN, so I moved there during 6 months working on detectors (nothing related to analysis). I visited the auditorium where the discovery was announced, I visited the 4 experiments, I saw some Nobel prices winners in the cafeteria, I met amazing people, I was on a dream. So after finishing my bachelor I decided that I wanted to come back. I started my master in particle physics in Geneva University while working at CERN again with detectors.
At the end of 2020 it was time to start my PhD, and I decided that I finally wanted to do analysis (still had in mind the nice workshop when I “helped” discovering the Higgs boson). I moved to Hamburg where I joined the top group in DESY CMS.
Currently, I’m working on my PhD in the measurement of the top quark mass. I can say that I am where am I because of the discovery of the Higgs boson, it was just perfect timing for me. Let’s see what the future hold for me, but I know it’s gonna be exciting!