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Karen Andeen

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Karen Andeen

I am currently a post-doctoral researcher for AMS-02. I’m based at CERN, in Switzerland, work for a young investigator group at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, and live in France, while my citizenship is with the USA. Complicated? Yes. You should see the reams of forms I had to sign—in German, French and English—no idea what any of it means (not even the English ones!)

I’m based at CERN because that’s where the AMS-02 control room is, along with a large fraction of the AMS cadre. (Also, my husband is also a physicist and CERN happens to be one of the “easier” places for a couple in physics to both find jobs together.) I act as a liaison between my group at KIT and the collaboration, as well as taking detector shifts and working to analyze the > 30 billion cosmic ray events that we’ve transferred down to Earth since the project was first launched over a year and a half ago.

Before I joined AMS-02, I spent a year working with a group at Rutgers University writing software and testing a new diamond luminosity detector for CMS, called the PLT (Pixel Luminosity Telescope)—you heard correctly: it’s made of diamonds. (I had to carry the diamonds with me to Switzerland—according to airport security they were “chips of an allotrope of carbon”.)

South Pole

My PhD work was on cosmic ray composition and energy spectrum with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole —at that time I was with University of Wisconsin-Madison, where we built ~1/2 of the ~5200 optical modules used in the detector, so I was also sent to do detector testing and deployment “on the ice” (aka- at the South Pole!!! )

Yep, that’s right: Ice, Diamonds, Space. Cold, Hard, Darkness—my past 10 years in a nutshell. What more could a girl want?

Lest you think it’s all work and no play, I’ll tell you that I’m learning French, I’m “perfecting” my extremely beginner downhill ski technique (and can I just say that hill is definitely a misnomer here…we are NOT skiing in Wisconsin anymore, folks!), and we’ve been taking on a whole new level of cooking since moving here due to this awesome farmer’s market right outside our front door (also because it turns out they don’t sell Mac & Cheese in France).