The goal of Prof. Calderon de la Barca's research is to measure the production of beauty quarks in the hottest matter produced in the lab, with a temperature over 100,000 times that of the sun's core. He is working in studies of heavy ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Lab and at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He participate in the STAR Experiment, and in the CMS Experiment. He is interested in measuring heavy quark mesons. In particular, he has led the measurement of the Υ meson (a bound state of a beauty and an anti beauty quark) in the STAR experiment. The collisions of heavy ions at RHIC and LHC produce hot quark matter, and these measurements of Υ mesons can tell us just how hot. The picture features a heavy-ion collision, where there are thousands of particles produced in a single event. The temperatures and energy densities reached by the matter produced in the collision are high enough to deconfine the quarks and gluons making up the colliding nuclei. These temperatures are similar to the temperature of the universe about 1 microsecond after the Big Bang. In this extremely hot environment, we expect a modification of the properties of the Υ particles due to the presence of deconfined quarks and gluons. In the STAR experiment, one can carry out a measurement of the Υ meson by reconstructing the decay Υ -> e+e- using tracking and electromagnetic calorimetry for electron identification, and using Υ -> μ+μ- in the CMS experiment which has excellent muon detection capabilities. By measuring these quarks, students in Prof. Calderon de la Barca's group learn about the strong nuclear force, which gets its name from the fact that it is the strongest of all the forces of nature (stronger than gravity and electromagnetism).
- Ph.D., Yale University, 2001
- Research Associate, Brookhaven National Laboratory, 2001-2003
- Assistant Physicist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, 2003-2004
- Assistant Professor, Indiana University, 2004-2005
- Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis, 2005-2008
- Associate Professor, University of California, Davis, 2008-2013
- Professor, University of California, Davis, 2013-Present
- Scientific advisor and featured scientist for the Giant-Screen Film "Secrets of the Universe" (2014-2019)
- Soaring to New Heights Faculty Citation Award of the Diversity and Principles of Community Awards, UC Davis, 2015
- Academic Senate Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2013
- 2013 European Physical Society High Energy and Particle Physics Prize, for an outstanding contribution to High Energy Physics, awarded to the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, “for the discovery of a Higgs boson, as predicted by the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism”.
- UC Davis, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division, Research Award, 2010
- Wayne State University, MLK/César Chãvez/Rosa Parks Visiting Professor., 2009
- NSF Career Award for Junior Faculty, 2007
- Verano Cientifico Fellowship (Awarded by Division of Particles and Fields, Mexican Physical Society, for research at CERN, Summer 1996)