Justin Flaherty, CSU Physics Honors ('16) and Physics MS ('18) alum is currently a physics PhD student at the Ohio State University. He was recently sent to the Antarctic for his Ph.D. research. Below is a quick note from Justin about this unique and exciting experience in one of the most remote places in the world!
"I'm a fifth-year Ph.D. student working under Professor Amy Connolly in the Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (CCAPP) at the Ohio State University, where we research ultra-high energy neutrinos from extra-galactic sources. I am part of two major collaborations that search for neutrinos using radio: The Payload for Ultra-high Energy Observations (PUEO) and The Askaryan Radio Array (ARA). Both experiments are based in Antarctica, where the ice is useful for our detection methods. PUEO is a balloon-based experiment that will fly over the continent for about a month in late 2024 to observe neutrinos in the energy range of 10^18 to 10^21 eV, whereas ARA is an in-ice experiment at the South Pole that looks for neutrinos year-round in the range of 1018 to 1020 eV. I was lucky enough to be sent to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in January of 2023 to perform maintenance on ARA, where I had to physically dig up two of our detectors and attempt to repair them at the IceCube Lab. In addition to the repairs, I conducted calibration measurements by setting up a radio pulser at different locations around the stations, up to five miles away from South Pole Station, in order to test the sensitivity and range of our detectors. Outside of my work, I was able to spend time exploring South Pole Station as well as McMurdo Station, ranging from the tunnels beneath the South Pole to Observation Hill overlooking McMurdo Station. I plan to continue working on these projects after getting my doctorate, which will hopefully lead me back to the beautiful continent of Antarctica."
Justin, thank you for sharing this update with us and we are looking forward to hearing more about your research with PEUO and ARA in the future.