NPL Undergraduate Student Nivedha Vasanth chosen as DaRin Butz Scholar

4/19/2024 NPL Staff

Written by NPL Staff

NPL Physics undergraduate student Nivedha Vasanth has been chosen as a recipient of the DaRin Butz Foundation Research Scholarship for the Academic Year 2024-2025. Congratulations to Nivedha! She is a member of the class of 2026 and joined the UIUC ATLAS Zero Degree Calorimeter (ZDC) group in December 2023 under the mentorship of Dr. Riccardo Longo. The DaRin Butz scholarship offers $5000 to support undergraduate research during the Summer and the following Academic Term.


About Nivedha

Nivedha started her journey in the ZDC group by joining fellow undergraduate students Samantha (Sam) Lund and Shreyas Rao in their studies investigating the spatial non-uniformities in Photomultiplier Tubes (PMTs). Together, they created experimental setups to determine these characteristics across various PMTs. With support from the group, Nivedha learned to use computational tools to analyze data and simulate different light guide designs.

Using the collected data, Nivedha hopes to outline strategies to integrate optimized light guide designs into the ATLAS Run 4 High Luminosity Zero Degree Calorimeter (HL-ZDC).  Recently, she has been investigating the rotational symmetry of PMT response. Currently, Nivedha and Shreyas, with the assistance of UIUC Research Engineer Kristopher Young, are exploring ways to automate the rotation of their experimental setup.

Nivedha's DaRin Butz Research Plan

Thanks to the scholarship, Nivedha will continue her research in the summer, working on a prototype design for the Reaction Plane Detector section in the HL-ZDC detector. This prototype will precede the production of the HL-ZDC detector, which will undergo testing at CERN with electron and hadron beams in summer 2025. Nivedha will lead the studies that will integrate the ATLAS RPD design developed and constructed for Run 3 in the HL-ZDC detector. After finalizing these studies, Nivedha will have a leadership role in the pre-production of an HL-ZDC detector that will represent the full proof of concept for this new device before the construction of 4 modules to be delivered to both ATLAS (2x) and CMS (2x) experiments at CERN.  The DaRin Butz Award also enables Nivedha to join the UIUC team on their trip to CERN for the test beam of the pre-production detector in the Summer of 2025. 

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity provided to me by the DaRin Butz scholarship. Looking back on when I started college at UIUC, if someone had told me then that I would be involved in designing and constructing a particle detector at CERN, I would have found it hard to believe. Thanks to the DaRin Butz Foundation and my mentor and peers' guidance, I have the support and the means to contribute significantly to the research done by the ATLAS ZDC group.”

Nivedha Vasanth, NPL Undergraduate Student 

From left to right: Sam Lund (Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholar 2023-24), Nivedha Vasanth (DaRin Butz Research Scholar 2024-2025) and Riccardo Longo (Research Mentor of Sam and Nivedha)
From left to right: Sam Lund (Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholar 2023-24), Nivedha Vasanth (DaRin Butz Research Scholar 2024-2025) and Riccardo Longo (Research Mentor of Sam and Nivedha)

A legacy of outstanding scholarship of women physics students at the NPL

Nivedha’s acceptance into the DaRin Butz Scholarship marks the third consecutive year that an NPL undergraduate student has been recognized with a college-wide grant for women studying STEM. In the previous year, Sam Lund, from the class of 2024, was named a Clare Boothe Scholar, and in 2022, Farah Mohammed Rafee was named a DaRin Butz Scholar as well. Sam has just graduated and is going to join the Graduate Program in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin, while Farah graduated in Spring 2023 and is now pursuing a PhD in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Michigan. We are so proud of our students and their accomplishments!

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This story was published April 19, 2024.