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And Giorgio left too May 1, 2008

Posted by dorigo in news, personal, physics, science.

During the last ten years I have graduated 11 undergraduate students in Physics, plus tutored four PhD students through to their title. Despite this variety of personalities that have crossed my path in forming their credentials as physicists, there is one single example of “my student” which stands above all, for continuity and results, and that example is Giorgio Cortiana.

Giorgio joined our group in 2000 as a summer student at Fermilab, and he worked during the months of August and September with me at the design of a trigger we were putting together to collect Higgs bosons in the forthcoming Run II. Following the positive experience, he asked our group for a thesis in CDF, and worked with me at the same topic, a multijet trigger for Higgs events.

He graduated with the highest score, and entered Padova’s PhD program at the end of 2002. CDF data was just starting to pour in in reasonable amounts, and Giorgio’s PhD time span was well-placed to allow us to invent something new. We started working at a search for top pair decays including tau leptons and jets, a channel nobody had ever considered due to its apparent trouble -a huge background from QCD events. We, however, were soon convinced our search could yield a pleasant surprise.

And indeed we struck gold when, in early 2004, we found out that by extending the search to an inclusive signature of missing transverse energy and jets -which allowed to include events where one of the top quarks decayed to an electron or a muon which failed the tight lepton identification criteria- we soon obtained a large signal of events that other searches had totally ignored.

With the data we had selected, Giorgio and I obtained CDF’s third-best measurement of the top pair production cross-section, and we soon published a paper on Physics Review Letters. In the meantime, Giorgio also obtained his PhD, which was soon followed by a research grant to continue working with our group in Padova. The plan of the grant was to measure the top quark mass with the decays he had collected in the inclusive missing Et plus jets search: he did it very effectively, and he published another nice paper in record time. While he was doing that, he also had his hands full in a new re-design of the CDF calorimeter trigger, again focused on a more efficient collection of Higgs events. He took an important role in the project as responsible for the monitoring of the trigger, and his group completed the task in due time: CDF now has a much more effective identification of jets at trigger level 2, and this means a sizable increase in Higgs sensitivity.

Despite these successes, we had to witness once again how Italy is not generous with young researchers. Bright, young and able, with the highest academic title in his pocket Giorgio -as hundreds like him- is deprived of job security, and has to accept a salary which in other countries would be refused by a graduate student. So he recently started looking for a better position outside Italy, and he of course found one very soon. He gave a farewell seminar in Padova last week (if I have a chance I will describe his interesting talk here), and he is now off to Munich, where he is joining the ATLAS group. ALAS, I would say, since I at least hoped he would end up in a CMS group instead: that would have allowed me to continue collaborating with him…

The best of luck to Giorgio then. I am sure he will be appreciated in his new group. In the meantime, I have to reckon with a thinning group of collaborators: Julien left three months ago… To ATLAS too!

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