Joshua Doucette

Joshua Doucette, Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics

Searches for dark matter

“Joshua is a very good scholar: curious, hard working and intelligent. He bridges many interconnected areas both theoretically and experimentally, with a curiosity for both.” – Usha Mallik, Professor, Physics & Astronomy

Hometown: Charles City, IA
Faculty mentor/advisor: Professor Usha Mallik
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? I am an undergraduate double majoring in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in Computer Science. I plan to graduate at the end of the spring semester in 2022.
Please describe your research: Our research group is driven to discover and understand particle physics beyond the standard model. I am currently involved in an ATLAS analysis, based on beyond the standard model physics, to search for Dark Matter production at the particle level. During the summer of 2021, I was involved with testing silicon strips and front end electronics at Brookhaven National Laboratory for the ATLAS detector upgrade, which will accompany the High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider upgrade at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Our primary motivation for conducting this research is to extend the laws of physics to provide explanations for phenomena that remain unexplained. Using experiment as the judge of truth, we hope to revise the laws of physics so they no longer contain their current shortcomings and inadequacy. However, even if direct application of our research is not the primary motivation for our pursuit, historically major discoveries have happened along the way which have direct benefits for both industry and academia.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to join the research community within my first semester at the University of Iowa.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? In general, participating in research has helped me think more analytically and quantitatively. By doing research in experimental physics, I have learned that not everything works out the way you expect, and that it’s not always a bad idea to try again. I have also learned many skills while doing research that sometimes show up as requirements in my coursework.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I hope to continue on to graduate school as a PhD student in Physics and continue doing research.

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