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Rene Bellwied

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Rene Bellwied

I am a Physics Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, and I am presently involved in the STAR experiment at RHIC and ALICE at LHC. I have been in Detroit for 16 years, after completing my postdoctoral work as a Feodor-Lynen fellow at Stony Brook near Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). I was initially a member of three fixed target experiments at the AGS at BNL, E814, E877, and E896. Then in 1991 I became one of the initial members of the STAR collaboration. I was the project leader for the STAR Silicon Vertex Tracker for fifteen years and the physics coordinator for the STAR strangeness group for six years. In 2001/2002 I briefly was the STAR deputy spokesperson.

I was born (in 1959) and raised in Germany and from early on I knew I wanted to become a scientist. I started off with chemistry, but I was never really satisfied with the fact that chemistry is better in making things than explaining them. That triggered my switch to physics, which I consider the most fundamental science of all. I really love physics and how it explains basic as well as complex issues. I also enjoy teaching the elementary physics courses in which students can get exposed to everyday applications of physics principles. I got my Ph.D. in a collaborative project between the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz and the GSI in Darmstadt. My thesis work was not using relativistic heavy ions at all, but rather dealt with nuclear reactions near the Coulomb barrier, which were related to the production of super-heavy elements. But already during my thesis I got very excited about the possibilities that heavy ion collisions at relativistic energies might offer towards the understanding of the evolution of the universe.

The early predictions of the formation of a new state of matter (Quark Gluon Plasma) have now been unambiguously confirmed by the RHIC and SPS experiments. The discovery phase is behind us, leading to the surprise finding of a strongly coupled state of deconfined quarks and gluons, termed 'Quark Soup' in a recent Scientific American article, and we are embarking on a journey to characterize the seemingly very surprising features of this new state of matter. My own interest now lies in the inter-disciplinary research on the QGP which recently brought together scientists from string theory, plasma physics, astrophysics, high energy and nuclear physics, to understand the discoveries at RHIC which might have implications on a macroscopic scale, for the evolution of the universe, and on a microscopic scale, for the understanding of QCD (Quantum Chromo Dynamics). The LHC will be a major step forward by allowing us to probe the Quark Gluon state at energies 30 times higher than RHIC. ALICE will be the most versatile heavy ion detector at the LHC, and I am looking forward to using the detector to determine properties of the QGP in order to understand the origin of matter in the universe.

I am happy to say that I also have a life outside of physics. I am very interested in any type of pop culture (TV, movies, music). I have an extensive collection of CD's and DVD's and I am always interested in discovering new artists. I presently live in two towns, Detroit and Austin, TX, and Austin prides itself in being the live music capital of the world. So I am out and about a lot. I own two motorcycles and love to go on long rides through the beautiful parts of America. I also love to hike, especially in Canyon country in the U.S. Southwest. And I love to eat good food (a good reason to work at a European lab close to France and Switzerland). I feel privileged that my job allows me to travel extensively and experience the many different cultures in all parts of the world. There is nothing better than having an interesting job that not only makes you think but also opens you up to new experiences. Finally I will get married soon (in the fall, to another physicist), and I am definitely looking forward to that. Which brings up the question, is it better to be with a like-minded person or shall we venture more into finding partners and friends that don't care about the 'Quark Soup'? Well, let's blog!!