Wouter Dekens Researches Asymmetry in Matter/Antimatter

After completing his PhD in Physics at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, Wouter Dekens has spent the last two years working for Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) and the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) funded by a grant from the NWO (the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research).

His research project “A Window on the Universal Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry” is an attempt to understand the theories we currently have to try to explain the elementary particles all around us. The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe. However, all the life forms and objects around us are created almost entirely of matter. Curiously, there is not much antimatter to be found. What happened to tip the balance? In physics, one of the greatest challenges is to figure out what happened to the antimatter, or why we see an asymmetry between matter and antimatter.

Currently, the most successful theory describing elementary particles is still unable to explain this matter-antimatter asymmetry. Numerous theories that try to explain the matter-antimatter imbalance, and postulate new interactions, have been put forward.

To get a clearer picture, Physicists are looking for hints by studying the subtle differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter particles created in high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

The first step of Dekens' project was to describe such new interactions in a model-independent way. The resulting framework was then employed to constrain non-standard interactions by using results from cutting-edge experiments, ranging from high-precision measurements at low energies to the ultra-high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

The limits that were derived in this way allow one to determine which of the theories that attempt to explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe are still consistent with experimental data. This brings us one step closer to understanding which of the new interactions are responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry, and, consequently, our existence.

Dekens now works as a postdoc at LANL, working with Vincenzo Cirigliano. 

LANL Research Fundamental to New HIV Vaccine Study

For World AIDS Day, international partners have announced the first study for an investigational HIV-1-preventive “mosaic” vaccine. Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson are joining forces with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and National Institutes of Health, and they have enlisted the aid of top researchers worldwide to conduct the trial. The goal of the mosaic vaccine will be to elicit immune responses that can protect a vaccinated person from the world of HIV diversity that they might encounter.

The HIV-1 mosaic vaccine in the trial was originally designed at Los Alamos National Laboratory by theoretical biologist Bette Korber and her team.

The search for an HIV vaccine has been challenging due in part to the virus’s incredible diversity. HIV-1 has an ability to mutate rapidly, which results in great global genetic diversity with multiple strains and subtypes prevalent in different parts of the world.

The mosaic design was based on input that included thousands of HIV sequences kept at the Los Alamos HIV Database, a publicly available international resource funded through the National Institutes of Health. 

To read the full article see: " Los Alamos research fundamental to first efficacy study for mosaic HIV-1 preventive vaccine"

NMC Awarded DARPA Biological Antenna Grant

Researchers at New Mexico Consortium have been awarded a DARPA grant as part of a new DARPA program to research biological radio frequency antennas. Low-frequency electrical sensing is well known in electric eels, sharks, and other animals. Snakes, in particular pit vipers, can sense terahertz radiation. In mammals, short, strong pulses of microwaves can be heard by the animal as clicks. DARPA believes that discovery and characterization of biological antennas could have important applications, including inspiring new designs for man-made antennas.

The NMC team will be modeling the electrical properties of the inner ear, in collaboration with University of Utah, and UNM, where radio-frequency experiments will be carried out on model antennas. Experiments on whether rodents respond to certain types of pulsed radio signals will be conducted by Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute in Albuquerque.

Other institutions participating in the program include Caltech, UCSD, University of Michigan, and Georgia Tech Research Institute.


Terry Wallace Named New LANL Director

Nov. 29, 2017 - Dr. Terry Wallace has been appointed as the new Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and President of Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the company that manages and operates the Laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The appointments were announced yesterday November 28th, 2017 by Norman J. Pattiz and Barbara E. Rusinko, Chair and Vice Chair of the Los Alamos National Security (LANS) Board of Governors, and are effective January 1, 2018.
Wallace, age 61, will succeed Dr. Charlie McMillan, who announced in September his plans to retire from the Laboratory by the end of the year. Wallace becomes the 11th Director in the Laboratory’s nearly 75-year history.

To read the full article see:

LANL Article: New Director Named at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Student Research Seeks to Predict Dengue Fever Outbreaks

New Mexico Consortium (NMC) and Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) student Jessica Conrad attended the ICMA VI: 6th International Conference on Mathematical Modeling and Analysis of Populations in Biological Systems where she gave a presentation titled, “Using Satellite Imagery and Internet Data for Dengue Surveillance in Brazil”. The conference took place October 20 – 22, 2017 at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Dengue fever is important to study due to cases of the disease increasing in Latin America in the last 15 years. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine commercially available yet for dengue fever outside of Mexico, and there are not specific medications people can take to treat dengue. The most important thing people can do is to try to prevent the disease from breaking out in the first place, and control it when it does break out.

Conrad’s research includes a predictive risk analysis to forecast dengue dynamics in Brazil, and explore whether remote sensing data can improve disease forecasting. As this is a mosquito-borne disease, her research uses predictive data streams such as previous cases, weather, precipitation, vegetation, land use, and remote sensing data.

Successful forecasting of dengue fever in Brazil can lead to more successful preemptive vector control programs. Conrad’s research is contributing to the successful prediction of where dengue may break out which will help to reduce dengue cases each year.
Conrad is an NSF SEES Fellow and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Conrad's collaborators include Carrie Manore, Nick Generous, Sara Del Valle, Geoffrey Fairchild, Amanda Ziemann, Nidhi Parikh (LANL) and Amir Siraj (Notre Dame) as well as Descartes Labs.

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