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María Moreno Llácer

María Moreno Llácer




Affiliation: Instituto de Física Corpuscular (IFIC), CSIC-Universitat de València

Fields or areas of research Particle Physics, High energy physics, machine learning

I graduated in Physics at the University of Valencia (UV) in 2007. That summer I had the opportunity to join the CERN summer student program (Switzerland), the largest particle physics laboratory in the world where, after twenty years of construction, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was about to start. It was an historical moment so it was clear to me, I wanted to participate in such great adventure and I enrolled as a doctoral student the group at the Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC) that works on the ATLAS experiment (of the LHC).

In a first stage, prior to the LHC collisions, I participated in the commissioning of the ATLAS detector with cosmic rays to ensure that all the subdetectors were aligned and synchronized, thus obtaining the first results with real data from the experiment. The main topic of my thesis, supervised by Dr. Costa and Prof. Dr. Bernabéu, was the search for new sources of violation of the CP symmetry (conjugation of charge and parity) in events with top quarks that are necessary to explain the observed matter-antimatter asymmetry of our universe.

In 2013, I started my postdoctoral stage at the University of Goettigen (Germany) and later at CERN itself, where I got the prestigious "CERN Research Fellowship". My research lines have expanded but always related to the study of the top quark, since it is a very special particle. It is the most massive elementary particle, even heavier than the Higgs boson itself (the particle that explains why the rest of the elementary particles have mass) and therefore the coupling among the two is very intense. Studying this interaction, as well as precise measurements of their properties and searches for "new physics", has been the main objective of my research. Due to the large amount of data from the LHC and the low signal-to-background ratios, we employ multivariate analysis techniques and machine learning. I collaborate with theoretical physicists to understand all the theoretical uncertainties that affect our measurements and the interpretation of them based on new theories. During my time at CERN I also worked on the development of the new generation of the ATLAS tracking detector. Throughout my postdoctoral stage, I have coordinated several working groups of the ATLAS scientific collaboration, related to the research of the top quark and the Higgs boson. I have also presented results at various international conferences and have been invited to give seminars or colloquiums at prestigious research centers such as SLAC and Brookhaven (BNL) National Laboratories in the United States, the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in China, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics and the University of Bonn in Germany. For all these reasons, I have been awarded with three research prizes: Young Investigator Award in Experimental Physics 2018 from the Royal Spanish Physics Society and BBVA Foundation, Leona Woods Distinguished Postdoctoral Lectureship Award 2018 from BNL, and the XV Ciutat d'Algemesí Scientific-Technical Award.

In 2019, I returned to IFIC with a Junior Leader fellowship from La Caixa and I also teach at the Atomic, Molecular and Nuclear Physics Department of the UV. In 2020 I got a SEJI project ("Subvenciones a la excelencia científica de juniors investigadores"), which will allow me to continue and expand my research lines, and I have also obtained a "Ramón y Cajal" research contract.

People associated with the project as predoctoral research staff: 2