Bob Kowalewski

Bob Kowalewski
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of Victoria
Office: Elliott 204

BSc (U Rochester), PhD (Cornell)

Area of expertise

Experimental particle physics

I conduct research in experimental particle physics. I am currently involved with two principle research efforts:

  • Searches for new phenomena at the high energy frontier with the ATLAS detector at the European Centre for Particle Physics (CERN);
  • Studies of weak interactions and CP violation (the breakdown of the symmetry between matter and anti-matter) with the BELLE-II detector at the KEK laboratory in Japan.

ATLAS began collecting first physics data in 2009, established the existence of a Higgs boson in 2012 and is exploring new territory with higher energy and higher intensity beams from the LHC. My research group on ATLAS is focused on data analysis and on software development and operations for the High Level Trigger and the reconstruction of missing transverse momentum (MET).  The HLT is a large parallel computing facility that makes the final decision on whether or not to write each collected event to permanent storage.  Continued increases in LHC luminosity require corresponding improvements to the HLT in order to preserve sensitivity to important physics signatures in the presence of higher backgrounds.  My group has responsibility for HLT signatures based on MET which are essential for searches for new, non-interacting particles (e.g. Dark Matter candidates).  We also work to improve the reconstruction of MET for offline data analysis.  Members of my group have worked on studies of the Higgs Boson in the gamma-gamma decay channel and on searches for dark matter candidates using events with jets or vector bosons recoiling against MET.

Belle II is a new experiment in Japan that has sensitivity to new physics in the decays of heavy quarks and leptons.  The Belle II detector and SuperKEKB accelerator began commissioning in 2017, and the first full physics run will take place in 2019.  My research in Belle II centres on semileptonic decays of B mesons, and in particular on the determination of the coupling strengths (|Vub| and |Vcb|) between the b quark and the u and c quarks (see this review article). These parameters play a crucial role in testing the adequacy of the Standard Model description of CP violation, and in quantitative tests of flavour physics.  Belle II builds on the results of the Belle and BaBar experiments, which were cited in the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics for confirming the predictions of Kobayashi and Maskawa about the violation of CP symmetry (which is a necessary ingredient in understanding the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe).    

Research interests

  • Quark flavor physics
  • Electroweak physics
  • Dark matter particle searches
  • Trigger development
  • Machine learning

For a full list of my publications, see INSPIRE.

Current Graduate Students
  • Danika MacDonell (PhD) - ATLAS
  • Evan Carlson (MSc) - ATLAS (co-supervised)
  • Zhelun Li (MSc) - ATLAS

Graduated Students (UVic)

  • Ewan Hill (PhD, ATLAS; co-supervised) - Postdoctoral research at UBC
  • Graeme Niedermayer (MSc, ATLAS)
  • Justin Chiu (MSc, ATLAS) - PhD student at UVic
  • James Pearce (MSc and PhD, ATLAS) - Data scientist, Amazon 9
  • Xander Baker (MSc, ATLAS)
  • Ryan Taylor (MSc, ATLAS) - IT professional at UVic
  • Ryan Bayes (MSc and PhD, TWIST; co-supervised) - postdoc at Univ. of Glasgow
  • Kenji Hamano (PhD, BABAR) - Postdoctoral researcher at Univ. of Victoria
  • Dominique Fortin (PhD, BABAR) - Clinical medical physicist
  • Paul Jackson (MSc and PhD, BABAR) - Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Univ. of Adelaide
Current Postdoctoral Researchers
  • Kenji Hamano (ATLAS)
Former Postdoctoral Researchers
  • Thomas Lueck (BABAR) - research scientist, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
  • Florian Bernlochner - Professor, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Vikas Bansal - data scientist, Microsoft
  • Swagato Banerjee - Assistant Professor, University of Louisville
  • Ahmed Hossain - Assistant professor, St. Francis Xavier University
  • Bipul Bhuyan - faculty member, IIT-Guwahati
  • Asoka DeSilva - software engineer, TRIUMF

In addition to the inherently international nature of experimental research in particle physics, I taught a topical course at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS-SA) in South Africa in 2014.  The students were very enthusiastic and talented and it was a great experience - one I hope to repeat as time allows.  Note that postdocs can apply to be tutors at AIMS and are encouraged to do so.