Camarillo, Calif., March 27, 2013 – Three students from CSU Channel Islands (CI) will head to the prestigious European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland this summer to help scientists address some of physics’ biggest mysteries using the world’s largest, most powerful particle accelerator.

Cameron Embree and Gradon Faulkner, both juniors double-majoring in Math and Computer Science, and Brandon Ausmus, a graduate Math student, are the first CI students to earn the highly competitive 10-week internships at the world-renowned lab.

The students will learn from and collaborate with international physicists, engineers and computer scientists on the ATLAS experiment of the Large Hadron Collider. The 17-mile-long, underground particle accelerator allows scientists to smash subatomic particles, test theories of particle and high-energy physics, and reproduce conditions that existed at the beginning of the universe. Researchers are using the Large Hadron Collider to generate new insights into the Big Bang, the elusive Higgs boson, the evolution of the universe, black holes, and dark matter.

The students will work on ATLAS physics and computing projects, doing real-time data analysis, upgrading code for detectors and improving hardware, and running modeling and simulation studies. Each student will be attached to a small group of CERN scientists running specific particle projects on the basis of their skills.

“I am still in disbelief about having received this internship,” said Embree. “I have the opportunity to participate in the bleeding edge of particle physics through programming and mathematical computation. A discovery could be made there any day about new physics and the opportunity to be a part of that is a dream come true. I intend to show those I meet at CERN that students from CI’s Computer Science and Mathematics programs can compete at the same level as students from major research institutions.”

CI recently joined the CSU-wide Nuclear and Particle Physics Consortium (NUPAC), which offers CSU students the opportunity to apply to work and study on the ATLAS experiment of the Large Hadron Collider. Embree, Faulkner and Ausmus were selected on the basis of their academic records, including their performance in a nuclear physics course, and the match of their skill sets to current CERN projects.

“These students are to be congratulated for a stellar achievement. The selection process for this internship is very strict, with only students who are equivalent to the top students from major research universities being chosen,” said Professor of Applied Physics Dr. Geoff Dougherty, who is facilitating the NUPAC program at CI and will accompany the students to CERN. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to collaborate with top physicists, engineers and scientists and to share their knowledge to inspire other students.”

The majority of the students’ travel and lodging expenses will be covered by CI’s Instructionally Related Activities fund and state lottery funds. After returning to CI, the students will give presentations on their experience at CERN in open seminars and at a local conference.

“As the first in my family to go to college, this is such an honor,” said Faulkner. “I hope that I can learn more about what it takes for researchers to explore unknown areas of physics that explain how our world works.”

"I'm very honored to have received this internship,” said Ausmus, also a first-generation college student. “Being invited to work at the world's largest and most modern particle physics facility is a humbling experience that will be life-changing. I really want to express my gratitude, and that I hope for my role at CERN to be a small gift to the CI community. I intend to represent CSU Channel Islands, the CSU NUPAC, and the CSU system as a whole, in a positive way that will open doors for more of our students in the future."

For more information, contact Dr. Geoff Dougherty at 805-437-8990 or Geoff.Dougherty@csuci.edu.

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI's strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master's degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI's Social Media.