Anna and Rami in Brussels

Ann and Rami in Belgium
Ann and Rami in Belgium

Editor’s Note: Anna Christenson (UW-Madison) and Rami Jubara (Normandale College) spent last summer as IceCube interns. This summer they are interning with the IceCube group in Brussels, Belgium. 

Bonjour!

The first week is over! Rami and I arrived at 9 AM  Sunday June 16th in the Brussels national airport, and had to wait for Professor Kael Hanson who’s plane arrived at 1:00 PM. Kael and his wife drove us to our apartment, which is a very nice apartment! We explored the area around our apartment which is VUB and ULB campus and some shops.
Bootcamp started Monday and they worked us to the bone, …  just kidding! Bootcamp was fantastic and the speakers were all very helpful and we learned a lot about IceCube! On Tuesday night we went with some of the visiting PHD students to watch the Belgium football game at pub near our apartment. The streets were full of crazy fans after they won which was a lot of fun to see. On Wednesday we had a bootcamp dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Cafe de Epices.
On Friday the bootcamp was wrapped up and instead of attending the last two hours, I met with a PHD student, Thomas Meures, who will be the person I report to daily. I will be working on the experiment Askaryan Radio Array. We discussed what I will work on for the first few weeks. The plan is to work on a calibration method Thomas has developed and later work on improving a reconstruction method. Friday night, we went and explored the downtown area in Brussels (which is where the picture below is from).
On Sunday, Rami and I explored the beautiful city of Ghent. It was an hour train ride there. Ghent has been my favorite thing I have seen so far.

—Anna

First Post, Summer 2014 Students

We are the 2014 UWRF Summer IceCube interns. We are a diverse group of six students: three of whom attend UWRF(Laura, Kelsey, Nick)  during the regular school year, two from southern Wisconsin(Kyle from Norteast Wisconsin Technical College and Sam from UW-Waukesha) and one student joining us from Brazil (Thamyres).

We began working together three weeks ago on June 2nd.  Since then, we have worked our way through a variety of different materials and learned quite a lot in a rather brief period of time. Our first week consisted of a lot of computer programming, as the majority of our group has had little to no experience in that area. Not only were we programming, but we were also learning the details of the IceCube project and the very basics of particle astrophysics. During our second week, the six of us drove down to Madison for the week-long 2014 Summer Boot Camp, where we had a rigorous week full of programming, lectures, and instruction. There, we had the opportunity to meet IceCube collaborators and graduate students from all around the world. It was very humbling to work amongst some of today’s best minds in particle astrophysics. The content was a little overwhelming for our group, given that we had only been on the project for just one week, but everyone was very knowledgeable and willing to help us get our bearings.

Not all of the time was dedicated to intense instruction, however. When we weren’t holed up in the IceCube building, we were all out on the Capitol square for lunch, talking with each other and enjoying the sunshine, as well as all of the wonderful food options that the Capitol had to offer. Each day, once we all had our 8 hours of information overload, our group was out discovering all of the wonders of Madison. We walked along State Street, explored the trails around campus, and visited the student terrace along the shore of the lake. On the terrace there was homemade ice cream, live music, and movies depending on the night. These opportunities allowed us plenty of time to talk and get to know each other. By the end of the week, we had become much more comfortable around one another to the point where we were no longer afraid to ask questions or even to tease each other, resulting in a more relaxed and enjoyable working environment back home in River Falls.

This past week, we were all separated into our own individual projects where we were to put the skills that we had learned in Madison to good use. It’s been a trying week for all of us, as many of the things wouldn’t work, but everyone has been pushing through without giving up. Even though we have only been working on the project for a few weeks, we have gotten to the point where we are beginning to figure out what we need to change to make things work. This has been a fantastic learning experience for all of us thus far and we can’t wait to see where the rest of the summer takes us!

– All of us

2014 Summer Students

On this site we will chronicle the adventures of UWRF undergraduates and summer students as they launch themselves into the universe of astrophysics research. Most of the work will be on IceCube but we also work on neutron monitors both at UWRF and at McMurdo station in Antarctica. Expect to read about adventures in computer programming, data mining, escaping small town Wisconsin and Minnesota, nerdy science boot camps, travels to Antarctica, summers in Europe, and all the fun stuff that happens when little people try to push back the frontiers fundamental research.

Programmers
From L to R: Samuel Gardner, Kelsey Kolell, Laura Lusardi, Thamyres Lana Gehlen, Kyle Lueckfeld, Nicholas Jensen

Adventures in undergraduate astrophysics research