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Brookhaven | Long Island, NY | USA

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Behind the Scenes: RHIC

Hello, everyone. I’m Guillaume Robert-Demolaize, an accelerator physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, working on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). I work as a shift leader on the collider during the beam development period, which means that I have to study the behavior of the particles circulating in our two rings and change some of the machine parameters in order to steer both beams into collision for our two detectors (STAR and PHENIX) to acquire data in the best possible conditions. When RHIC is not running, I participate in the design and setup of some of the tools required to run the machine. I am mainly in charge of the RHIC online model, a server that allows converting the optic functions of the machine into values of current for the power supplies of the RHIC magnets. This might be a lot of technical terms for a simple description of my job; so one of my next posts in this blog will be dedicated to go over these terms in further details.

I was born in 1981 in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. I got interested in science as a teenager when the first physics and chemistry classes started, and physics won me over very quickly. I thought it was impressive that I could describe and/or predict how something would move with just a series of equations. By the time I reached 19 and had to select an engineering school, I read an article about SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and its collider for a school project; I got hooked instantly and never looked back. I then went to the ENSPG, a nuclear energy engineering school in Grenoble, France and graduated in 2003 with a specialization in accelerator physics after an internship at the SOLEIL synchrotron in Paris, France.

I then started a Ph.D. at CERN, which I completed in 2006 working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Collimation Project. My studies led to the first simulation of proton loss maps along the LHC ring. This was the first time I was working on a project of the scale of the LHC, and it allowed me to get a broader view of accelerator physics, with everything that comes into play. In January 2007, I started as a post-doctoral student at BNL and worked on its collimation system while getting more and more involved in RHIC operations. Since late 2008, I have been part of the team of shift leaders for RHIC, helping to deliver better collisions every run.

During the times when I am not glued to one of the computers in my office, I usually spend some time reading, biking (I actually got to enjoy it quite a bit lately) and teasing my brain some more with puzzles and riddles (as if particle physics was not enough). 2011 is a very busy year, since I am also planning my wedding!

I hope you will come to enjoy this blog, as I plan to give you kind of an insider look to what it is to run a machine like RHIC. Feel free to send your questions/comments, and I will do my best to answer them all. Welcome to RHIC!

- Guillaume

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