CushmanI am a graduate student in the Yale Physics Department doing research in neutrino physics. Neutrinos are extremely small elementary particles that interact very weakly with all other matter in the universe. They are produced in radioactive decays or in nuclear reactions, such as those that power the sun and other stars. Because it is so difficult to detect neutrinos, many properties of the neutrino are still unknown, and experiments to study neutrinos generally require large-scale experiments with teams of researchers. The properties of the neutrino may help us understand why matter dominated over antimatter in the early universe, leading to the stars, planets, and galaxies that we see today.

I work with Profs. Karsten Heeger and Reina Maruyama on CUORE, an experiment to search for neutrinoless double beta decay at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Assergi, Italy. Neutrinoless double beta decay, a process that may exist but has never been observed, would be extremely rare. Only a small number of elements have the potential to undergo this decay, and an individual atom would, on average, take significantly more time than the age of the universe to do so. Therefore, such a search needs a huge number of atoms and needs to be in a location largely free from cosmic rays and other contamination sources, so that it would be sensitive to just a handful of decays over a period of months or years. CUORE is an international collaboration involving several American and European institutions and is located deep underground inside the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy. See the research page for more information.

In addition to physics, I also love playing and listening to music. I’m an avid violinist and violist, and I enjoy playing in orchestras and chamber groups in the New Haven area.