Focus on: Stefania Bufalino
Dr. Stefania Bufalino - INFN Fellow at CERN
A.M First of all I would like to ask you about your current research activities and how they are related to your INFN fellowship?
S.B. I am a post-doc from INFN (division of Torino) and I have recently moved to CERN as I got a fellowship from INFN. I am currently spending my time both on data analysis but also in doing some technical work. Particularly, I am working in the Strangeness Working Group and I am involved in the study of hyper-nuclei and anti-hypernuclei, related to the production of matter and antimatter with strangeness content and trying to find out the role that strangeness plays in heavy ion collisions. In addition I am also involved in the study of Particle Identification capabilities of a new ALICE Inner Tracking System in view of its possible upgrade. These are the two main fields in which I am involved. Moreover, for next year I am also getting involved with another hardware issue, specifically the maintenance of SDD (Silicon Drift Detector of the ITS) and I will be one of the two experts on call. The role of the expert on-call implies the prompt resolution of the problems that happen during the data taking and in particular this role becomes really crucial during the short p-Pb run in which the uptime efficiency is mandatory.
Perhaps I should also add that from May and till the end of August I am the System Run Coordinator for the ITS. I must say that this is a particularly useful experience through which I am learning many things about the detector and the data taking, things that you usually don't get to know if you are doing only data analysis. It is a great experience!
A.M: So why ALICE? I mean which was your previous trajectory and how have you decided to get involved with the ALICE experiment?
S.B. Well! First, of all, I should probably mention that my PhD thesis wasn't in heavy ion physics. I was involved in an experiment that was studying the production of Λ hypernuclei. It was the FINUDA experiment and it was based in Frascati in Italy. At some point they decided to stop the experiment and at that point the most reasonable thing for me was to look for another experiment that would study the production of hypernuclei using heavy ion collisions. Therefore, for me ALICE was the best way to continue this kind of research since ion collisions is a good and very effective method of producing hyper-nuclei although it's based on a different mechanism compared to the one that was used in Frascati.
However, ALICE gives us the possibility of studying not only hyper-nuclei but also anti-hypernuclei which means that we get a 3rd dimension compared to normal nuclei (i.e. consisting of neutrons and protons) and this dimension is related to the parameter of strangeness. In addition, while during the “normal” and well-known methods of producing hypernuclei we are getting negative strangeness, ALICE is allowing us to get positive strangeness.
A.M. Well that sounds quite fascinating. But I guess that first we need to understand better what is a hypernucleus before discussing the importance of strangeness and the ALICE experiment.