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Universe PhD Awards: And the winners are ....

The winners of the Universe PhD Awards have now been chosen. The Excellence Cluster Universe congratulates three young researchers on their outstanding promotional works. The annual Universe PhD Awards “Theory” and “Experiment” were assigned for the first time. Winners of the prize are awarded with 4,000 Euros each and are invited to present their research at the Universe Cluster’s “Science Week”. This year’s event is going to take place from 1-4 December, 2008. The five members of the award committee, emeriti of TUM and LMU, were pleased by the high scientific level of all PhD theses submitted. Indeed, the decision was hard too make – resulting in three instead of two prizes: The original call was intended to award two candidates only. 

The Universe Award “Theory” goes to Steve Blanchet (MPP), for his dissertation “A new Era of Leptogenesis”. According to the award committee, the thesis gives a competent, innovative and vivid account of the different aspects of leptogenesis in connection with unsolved puzzles in cosmology and particle physics. The laudatio further emphasizes that Blanchet’s dissertation provides “an excellent example of a synoptic work within the scope of the Universe Cluster”.

In the category “Experiment” the commitee identified two evenly matched candidates. Petra Haefner (LMU) won the prize for her research work “Measurement of the Top Quark Mass with the Matrix Element Method in the Semileptonic Decay Channel at D0”. In her thesis, Haefner has significantly improved the method to measure the mass of the top quark, the heaviest of all quarks, thereby limiting the systematic inaccuracy to 1 GeV. This value is significantly lower than in previous measurements. The laudatio stresses the far-reaching importance of Haefner’s results: The mass of the top quark plays an important role in the standard model. Therefore the measurements are expected to have an impact on the mass determination of the Higgs boson.

Rüdiger Picker (TUM) was awarded for his PhD thesis on “PENeLOPE and AbEx on the Way Towards a New Precise Neutron Lifetime Measurement”. In his project, Picker developed a new method for the high-precision lifetime measurement of neutrons, being the fundamental parameter for the formation of the first elements in the Universe. Picker developed a vertical magnetic bottle for ultra-cold neutrons (UCN) that allows to directly measure the protons released in the beta-decay of neutrons. The work is a highly sophisticated design project that was considered “to have been realised in an excellent approach”. 

Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Exzellenzcluster Universe

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