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Fermilab beam line with Fl. Tech GEM detectors under test (2013). Photo credit: VB


Our group's research is currently centered on the CMS experiment and the RD51 micropattern gas detector collaboration at CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) and on Tracking R&D for a future Electron-Ion Collider in the US. We have contributed to the PHENIX experiment at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the past. In our labs on the Florida Tech campus we do basic particle detector R&D on Gas Electron Multipliers (GEM) and have run extensive GEANT4 simulations for a Muon Tomography project. We operate a state-of-the-art Linux cluster with 180 CPU cores and 100TB of mass storage as a Tier-3 Grid cluster on the Open Science Grid from our local CMS T3 Center. Our group participated in the national Quarknet education and outreach program by offering technical expertise to local physics high school teachers and students for a Cosmic Ray Muon Project.

Look around this site to learn more about our research!

Aiwu, Jessie, and Vallary after installing large GEMs in Fermilab beam

"X" marks the spot! Dr. H. checks the CMS laser alignment system.


CMS experiment:  Installation of Alignment Sensors for the Muon Endcap Chambers.

Photo credit: MH.  More CMS photos from CERN.


Our research 

Florida Tech Muon Tomography Station with GEM detectors

Photo credit: M. Staib

Our papers & presentations


Quarknet teachers at work:

HEP group (November, 2009):


Group from left to right: Back: Alfred Menendez, Marcus Hohlmann, Amilkar Quintero,

Mike Abercrombie, Patrick Ford, Judson (Ben) Locke, Kondo Gnanvo.

Front: Andrea Citati, Samir Guragain, Johanna-Laina Fischer, Xenia Fave,

Himali Kalakhety.


HEP group (April, 2004):




Research Associates (current and former)

  • Aiwu Zhang, GEM R&D for EIC

  • Kondo Gnanvo (2007-11), GEM muon tomography

Graduate Students (all Physics / Space Sciences)

Ph.D. students:

    • Himali Kalakhety, CMS physics analysis and Z' search
    • Vallary Bhopatkar, GEM R&D for CMS & EIC
    • Liz Starling, GEM R&D for CMS

M.S. students:

    • Ankit Mohapatra, Higgs -> tau tau with CMS in LHC phase 2
    • Christian Zelenka, Muon tomography, grid sys. admin.

Undergraduates (P/SS) 

  • Ben Smith, MT testing (rebar concrete)
  • Christopher Bracci, GEM hardware and magnet testing
  • Jerry Collins, GEM R&D for CMS
  • Daniel McCormick, Cluster & Grid computing
  • Matthew Roof, Cluster & Grid computing
  • Nicholas Lowing, GEM hardware, magnet testing and webmaster


HEP A Group News


  • Our recent graduates participate in prestigious summer research programs including in programs abroad: Jessie @ JLab (via DOE SULI), Liz @ Frascati (via DOE-INFN scholarship), Mike @ BNL (via DOE SULI).
  • Shreeya Khanal, Mike Phipps, Liz Starling, Jessie Twigger, and Kimberly Walton win the second Northrop-Grumman Science Championship for our group at the 2014 annual Florida Tech Science & Engineering showcase with their presentations on GEMs with zigzag strips. In addition, Mike Phipps wins the "Best of Show" award in Physics for his particular contribution. (For details see also our Conferences page).
  • Florida Tech researchers cheer Nobel physics award; article in FloridaToday on the occasion of the Nobel prize award to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert for the Higgs mechanism (Oct '13).
  • Aiwu Zhang and Vallary Bhopatkar assemble and operate the first ever 1m-class GEM detector produced outside of CERN.
  • Our undergraduates participate in prestigious summer research programs including in programs abroad: Ankit @ U. Muenster (via DAAD scholarship), Jessie @ Frascati (via DOE-INFN scholarship), Mike @ Columbia, Nevis Labs (Summer '13).
  • BNL increases our EIC R&D funding to $150,000 total (Mar '13).
  • Dr. Aiwu Zhang joins us from IHEP Beijing as our new post-doctoral research associate on the EIC project (June '13).
  • Christian Zelenka wins "Best of Show" in Physics for his poster on muon tomography at the annual FIT-Northrop Grumman Science & Engineering showcase (April '13).
  • Dr. H. receives 'Most Valuable Panther MVP' award (Dec '12).
  • Lenny Grasso and Mike Staib graduate with M.S. degrees in Physics (May '12). Congratulations!
  • Ben Locke, Mike Staib, and Dr. Hohlmann attend the Posters on the Hill event on Capitol Hill in Washinton D.C. (April '12).
  • Liz Starling wins "Best of Show" in Physics for her poster on our infrared GEM foil stretching technique at the annual FIT-Northrop Grumman Science & Engineering showcase (April '12) .
  • The Economist features an article on our muon tomography project in its April 7th, 2012 print edition. Online version of the article with some interesting commentary (April '12). 
  • Our group sweeps the P/SS session at the 2012 annual meeting of the Florida Academy of Science. Nathan, Kim, and Himali win FAS awards for their presentations (March '12).
  • Our CMS effort receives a $360,000 funding continuation from DOE's Office of Science (HEP) for 2012-14. Dr. Hohlmann becomes P.I. of the DOE HEP core grant at FIT (March '12).
  • Physics majors Xenia Fave and Ben Locke both receive the Faculty Honor Award for graduating with a perfect 4.0 at the same Fall '11 commencement exercise. Way to go, guys!!!

    Left to Right: Ben, Dr.H., Xenia
  • Award Season in HEP Lab A: At the Spring 2011 Honors Convocation a number of our students are honored for their academic achievements (April '11):
    • Xenia Fave, Academic Award for Excellence for Women from the American Association of University Women and Florida Tech Distinguished Student Scholar
    • Johanna-Laina Fischer, Outstanding Junior P/SS
    • Ben Locke, Florida Tech Distinguished Student Scholar
    • Bryant Benson, John E. Miller Award for best Graduate Teaching Assistant P/SS
    Dr. Hohlmann receives the annual Faculty Award for Excellence in Research from the Faculty Senate at the same venue.

Right to left: Ben, Johanna-Laina, Xenia, Dr. H.

  • Will Bittner is accepted into the highly competitive IBM Extreme Blue Internship program (May '11). He subsequently accepts full time employment at the IBM Linux Technology Center in Austin, TX.
  • Ben Locke, Will Bittner, and Lenny Grasso win the Northrop-Grumman Science Championship at the annual Florida Tech Science & Engineering showcase and the "Best of Show" award of the College of Science with their presentation (April '11, also for details see our Conferences page).
  • Bryant Benson successfully defends his M.S. thesis (May '11).
  • Marcus Hohlmann, Samir Guragain (Ph.D '10), Himali Kalakhety CMS analysis research featured in Fermilab Today (March '11)
  • Alumna Georgia Karagiorgi (B.S.'04) is quoted in a Physics Today article on results of her Ph.D. thesis at MIT on antineutrino oscillations measured with MiniBooNE at FNAL.
  • DOE-Science (HEP) funds an upgrade of our Tier-3 Grid cluster operations with $30k from the 2009/10 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, aka the "Stimulus" bill (Sep '10).
  • Two-part Campus Research Report article appears in FIT Crimson: Part 1 on Muon Tomography; Part 2 on CMS (Sep '10).
  • Samir Guragain successfully defends his Ph.D. thesis (Sep '10).
  • Marcus Hohlmann talks with Courtland Lewis about the LHC on "American Variety," a radio show broadcast on three NPR stations in central Florida. Air dates: Sunday 5/9 & 9/5, 2010 on WFIT-89.5 FM (Melbourne) and Wednesday 5/12 & 9/8, 2010 on WMFE-90.7 FM (Orlando) and WQCS-88.9 FM (Ft.Pierce). 
    Listen to the webcast (big - 25 MB!) if you missed it on the radio.
  • WIRED.com, the online version of WIRED magazine, covers recent progress with our Muon tomography project with an article in their Wired Science Blog (July 1, 2010). The article also got picked up by the Global Security Newswire a day later.
  • Amilkar Quintero successfully defends his M.S. thesis (June'10).
  • Fourth-year funding from DHS for our Muon Tomography project puts total funding for this project at $1,255,000 (May '10).
  • Muon Tomography data taken with GEM detectors at CERN establishes first proof-of-concept of our method (Apr '10).
  • Our CMS effort receives a funding continuation in the amount of $160,000 from DOE's Office of Science (HEP) for 2009-11.


Former Group  Members (and where they are now)

  • Mike Abercrombie (B.S. '11, now a Ph.D. candidate in physics at Washington U., St. Louis)
  • Dr. Gyöngyi Baksay (Ph.D. '05)
  • Will Bittner (B.S. '12, now a software developer with IBM in Cambridge, MA)
  • Bryant Benson (M.S. '11, now in Ph.D. program in cosmology at UC Davis) \
  • Kim Day (B.S. '14, now a Google)
  • Robert Damadeo (B.S. '06, now a physicist with NASA contractor SSAI)
  • Dr. Klaus Dehmelt (Ph.D. '06, now a tenure-track Research Scientist at SUNY Stony Brook, NY)
  • Xenia Fave (B.S. '11 scl 4.0, now a Ph.D. student in Medical Physics at U. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX)
  • Johanna-Laina Fischer (B.S. '12, now a Ph.D. student at U. Penn)
  • Dr. Samir Guragain (Ph.D. '10, now a senior middleware engineer in Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Lenny Grasso (M.S. '12, Physics Teacher at Eau Gallie HS)
  • Jennifer Helsby (B.S. '08 scl, now a Ph.D. candidate in Astrophysics at U. Chicago)
  • Richie Hoch, (M.S. '09 in CS, now a software engineer with General Dynamics)
  • Jeremy Janney (B.S. '06, now an officer on Nuclear Submarines in the US Navy)
  • Georgia Karagiorgi (B.S. '04 scl, Ph.D. at MIT with experimental thesis on MiniBooNE at FNAL, now post-doctoral research scientist at Nevis Labs, Columbia U.)
  • Shreeya Khanal (B.S. '14)
  • Nick Leioatts (B.S. '09, Ph.D. '14 U. of Rochester in Biophysics, soon to be a post-doc at Max-Planck Institut for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany)
  • J. Ben Locke (B.S. '11 scl 4.0, now a software engineer with Harris Corp. in Melbourne)
  • Ankit Mohapatra (B.S. '14, scl 4.0, now a graduate student in our group)
  • Alfred Menendez (B.S. '10)
  • Nathan Mertins (B.S. '12, now a software engineer at B.A. Hamilton in Dayton, OH)
  • Thomas Moschoutis (B.S. '05, formerly M.S. student in Quantum Physics at KTH University in Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Rafael David Pena (B.S. '08, now with IT Dept., Intersil Corp.)
  • Jeff Pesula (former Quarknet Physics teacher, Sebastian River High school, now at engineering company in W. Palm Beach)
  • Mike Phipps (B.S. '14, now a SULI intern at Brookhaven Nationall Lab)
  • Amilkar Quintero (M.S. '10, now a Ph.D. candidate in nuclear physics at Kent State U. on the STAR experiment at BNL's RHIC)
  • Dr. Szabolcs Rembeczki (Ph.D. '09)
  • Marion Ripert (M.S. '05, now a Ph.D. student in Acceler. Physics at Heidelberg U.)
  • Jordan Robertson (M.S. '14, now sys. admin. at NASA Goddard)
  • Julie Slanker  (B.S. '05 scl, dual M.S. in Physics & Pol. Sci from Texas A&M)
  • Julian Spring (B.S. '06, now a Ph.D. student in particle physics at Boston U.)
  • Mike Staib (M.S. '12, now a Ph.D. cand. in nuclear physics at Carnegie-Mellon)
  • Arjun Trivedi (B.S. '04 in ECE, now a Ph.D. student in HEP at U. of South Carolina working on LHC experiment)
  • Jessie Twigger (B.S. '14, now a SULI summer intern at Jefferson Lab)
  • Sara Walker (B.S. '05, Ph.D. in Astroparticle Physics at Dartmouth, post-doc at Georgia Tech, now an assistant professor at Arizona State U.)
  • Kimberly Walton (B.S. '14)



Research Student Schedules

Fall 2014

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
9:00     Jerry        
9:30     Jerry        
10:00   Daniel, Ankit, Christian Jerry Daniel, Ankit, Christian   Daniel, Ankit, Christian  
10:30   Daniel, Ankit, Christian Jerry Daniel, Ankit, Christian   Daniel, Ankit, Christian  
11:00   Daniel, Ankit, Christian Jerry     Daniel, Ankit, Christian  
11:30   Daniel, Ankit, Christian       Daniel, Ankit, Christian  
12:00 HEP Meeting   Nicholas, Christopher     Daniel, Ankit, Christian  
12:30 HEP Meeting Nicholas Nicholas, Christopher   Jerry Daniel, Ankit, Christian  
1:00 HEP Meeting Nicholas Nicholas, Christopher   Nicholas, Jerry    
1:30 HEP Meeting Nicholas Nicholas, Christopher   Nicholas    
2:00 Jerry Nicholas, Jerry   Nicholas      
2:30 Jerry Nicholas, Jerry   Nicholas      
3:00 Jerry     Christopher Christopher Nicholas Nicholas
3:30       Christopher Christopher Nicholas Nicholas
4:00     Daniel, Ankit, Christian Christopher Christopher Nicholas Nicholas
4:30     Daniel, Ankit, Christian Christopher Christopher Nicholas Nicholas
5:00   Christopher          
5:30   Christopher          


Florida Institute of Technology 

Dept. of Physics and Space Sciences

150 West University Blvd, Melbourne, FL 3290, USA


Tel. (321) 674-.... : Dept. Office -8098; or -8795; Fax -7482

Florida Tech Homepage

Department of Physics and Space Sciences


Created by Gyongyi Baksay: March 25, 2004

Last modified: August 25, 2014