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Corrinne Mills

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I am a postdoc with Harvard University and work on the ATLAS experiment.  I've been a postdoc for four years now, dividing my time between Harvard and CERN. 

Cambridge is a great place to live, but the draw of CERN right now is irresistible, and not just because of all the gorgeous mountains and great cheese in that part of Switzerland and France. So I'm excited to be moving to CERN at the end of the summer, and I'll plan to document my experiences with switching my home base on this blog.

My primary interest in LHC physics, like most people's, is to find evidence for particles and interactions beyond what's described by the Standard Model.  But there are many interesting things to be understood along the way.  I've worked on top quark pair production at the Tevatron and W boson production at the LHC, focused on final states with one or more high-momentum (i.e. produced by the decay of very massive particles and therefore highly relativistic) electrons and muons.  I also work on the ATLAS trigger, which we use to select one out of every million or so proton-proton collision events to store for later study.

I actually didn't always know that I wanted to be a physicist.  My just-so story about how I became a scientist starts with a childhood fascination with biology and cells (along with dinosaurs and the space shuttle, naturally).  Cells were the smallest thing I knew about as a four-year-old.  I remember being intrigued by the way that larger structures could be understood in terms of their smaller and more fundamental constituents. 

In time, I learned that cellular function is driven by DNA and the proteins it encodes, and that those molecules are built of atoms, and that those atoms in all their diversity were just various combinations of electrons, neutrons, and protons.  Even the protons and neutrons are themselves built from quarks, something we only just learned a few decades ago. Now, I have the privilege to be part of the ongoing search for the most fundamental laws and building blocks of the universe, which I think is one of the great human endeavors.

When I am not gazing into the depths of my laptop and/or sitting in a meeting, I enjoy running, cooking and going out to eat at interesting restaurants. When I'm at CERN, I hike in the Jura and the Alps as often as I can.