Stony Brook Research Team Shares in 2016 Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics


Members of team honored with Breakthrough Prize (from left): Brett Viren, Bent Nielsen, Chang Kee Jung, Clark McGrew

A team led by Stony Brook’s Chang Kee Jung participated in the neutrino oscillation experiments honored this week with the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. The prize, worth $3 million, will be awarded to five experiments investigating neutrino oscillation and will be shared equally among the five teams involved.

Stony Brook is connected to this groundbreaking research through the Nucleon Decay and Neutrino (NN) physics research group led by Jung. NN team scientists are members of the the Super-Kamiokande, K2K and T2K experiments honored by the Breakthrough Foundation. Other neutrino research collaborations awarded a share of the prize were the SNO, KamLAND and Daya Bay collaborations.

The NN group has participated in Super-Kamiokande since the experiment’s beginning in 1991. Stony Brook scientists played a key role in constructing a detector and analyzing atmospheric neutrino data.

In addition to Jung, current and past members of the NN group involved in the Super-Kamiokande experiment include Clark McGrew, Chiaki Yanagisawa, James Hill, Matthew Malek, Kai Martens, Christopher Mauger, Eric Sharkey and Brett Viren.

The Stony Brook NN group also played a leading role in the K2K experiment, the first long baseline
neutrino oscillation experiment that confirmed the neutrino oscillation observed by the Super-Kamiokande experiment, as well as in the T2K experiment that discovered electron neutrino appearance from a muon neutrino beam in 2013.

Current and past NN group members involved in the K2K experiment include Jung, Clark McGrew, Chiaki Yanagisawa, James Hill, Kazuyoshi Kobayashi, Kai Martens, Anthony Sarrat, Christopher Mauger, Eric Sharkey, Ryan Terri, Lisa Whitehead and Daniel Kerr.

Current and past NN group members involved in the T2K experiment include Jung, Clark McGrew, Peter Paul, Michael Wilking, Chiaki Yanagisawa, Jeanine Adam, James Imber, Anthony Sarrat, Ian Taylor, Dmitriy Beznosko, Karin Gilje, Joshua Hignight, Jay Hyun Jo, Phoc Trung Le, Glenn Lopez and Bent Nielsen.

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was founded in 2012 by Yuri Milner to recognize those individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists — theoretical, mathematical, experimental — working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

In October, the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Takaaki Kajita and Art McDonald for the discovery of neutrino oscillations. Kajita was one of the leaders of the Super-Kamiokande collaboration and was credited for his seminal contributions to the Super-Kamiokande experiment’s discovery of neutrino oscillation. Thus this is the second time in less than a year that Stony Brook scientists have shared in research recognized by a prestigious prize.

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