Founder: Leslie Rogers

Leslie Rogers is a Physics Research Assistant at UTA helping develop experiments that seek to understand the nature of the mass of the neutrino. Understanding this nature could contribute toward the resolution of a persistent cosmological mystery, the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe. Leslie is currently developing an analysis of neutron interactions in xenon, an important source of background in the running NEXT-NEW experiment. She was also rewarded the 2018 Dr. Judith J. Carrier scholarship for leading the design of large electroluminescent amplification regions within the international NEXT collaboration while simultaneously starting and running the ongoing outreach project “Tap Talks: Science Distilled.” In December 2021 Leslie will begin a postdoctoral research position at the Argonne National Laboratory.

Director: Benjamin Smithers

Benjamin R. Smithers is a graduate student working with Dr. Benjamin Jones in physics at UTA. He previously studied at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in both Physics and Mathematics. There, Smithers was awarded the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Award for his work on simulating the effects of beam-induced neutron radiation on calorimetry in the high-radiation forward environment of the proposed International Linear Collider. Now he hopes to use his computational and simulation experience to better understand the sources of systematic error at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Benjamin became director of Tap Talks in August 2021.

PR Director: Jacqueline Baeza-Rubio

Jacqueline Baeza-Rubio is an undergraduate student researching neutrinoless double-beta decay under Dr. David Nygren and Dr. Ben Jones. Despite being a first year college student, Jackie has been working at UTA for 2 years as a High School intern. At UTA, she is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Physics through the University’s Honors College. Currently, Jackie is working on ion delivery for Barium tagging in collaboration with the NEXT experiment.

Assistant Director of Scientific Inquiry: Nick Byrnes

Nicholas Kaelan Byrnes is a PhD student at University of Texas Arlington studying physics. He graduated cum laude from the University of Texas Arlington in 2018, majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics though the University’s Honors College. He is also a recipient of the University of Texas Arlington Presidential Merit Scholarship. His current area of research is developing and advancing biochemisry techniques to apply to the search for neutrinoless double beta decay through the detection of barium. He was recently awarded second place at the University of Texas Arlington ACES competition for this research, and is a recipient of the Michael and Wanda Ray Fellowship.

UTA Faculty Liason: Dr. Ben Jones

Benjamin J. P. Jones is an Assistant Professor of Physics at UTA.  He received his undergraduate degree from Cambridge University and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Jones was recently awarded the prestigious Department of Energy Early Career Award for research into the nature of neutrino mass, which applies techniques from biochemistry to particle physics in order to study ultra-rare radioactive decays.  His PhD thesis work, which probed the properties of atmospheric neutrinos at the IceCube Neutrino Telescope, was recognized with the Tanaka Dissertation Award from the American Physical Society.  Jones’s research group at UTA focuses on neutrino physics and astrophysics, in particular the nature of neutrino mass and searches for exotic phenomena such as oscillations of sterile neutrinos.

Former Members

Operations Manager: Logan Norman

Logan Norman graduated from UTA with a bachelor’s degree in physics as well as mechanical engineering. While studying, Logan worked for the nuRES (Neutrino Rare Event Searches) research group at UTA, which is led by Dr. Ben Jones. The group’s focus is on finding rare neutrino events, and Logan is building a calibration robot for their experiment from scratch. Logan has always had a passion for building things and learning how everything works, and continues to strive for more knowledge. Logan now works at the Los Alamos National Laboratory looking into inertial confinement fusion.

Assistant Director: Sanmitra Pingulkar

Sanmitra Pingulkar graduated with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. He worked as an Engineering assistant in the NEXT collaboration at UTA. His job in the experiment was to design components and part which are required for the NEXT-100 detector. He now works in Brooklyn as a senior engineer at the Square Roots Urban Growers company.