Long-time readers of this blog (are there any left ?) know me well since I often used to write posts about personal matters here and in my previous sites. However, I am aware that readers come and go, and I also realize that lately I have not disclosed much of my personal life here; things like where I work, what's my family like, what I do in my pastime, what are my dreams and my projects for the future. So it is a good idea to write some personal details here.
Of course I do not mean to imply that any of that stuff is interesting to you. But if the early experience of "Quantum Diaries" in 2005 has taught me something, it is that science outreach is easier and more fun (at both ends) if there is some personalization involved. We all want to know something more about the people we read stories from: we want to get in their minds, in a way.
Personalization can also be dangerous if one ventures to discuss the people around in one's environment - it is extremely easy to hurt the ego of your colleagues. I had some trouble in the past when I made explicit names while telling work stories here, and sometimes even when I did not (as e.g. when I did not mention explicitly the contribution of some colleague to a graph I called "my plot" to cut the syntax short).
Leaving that issue aside, I have decided today to talk a bit about myself. Of course you can get to know a lot by just reading around, especially in this blog; but maybe I can make it easier today.
So, let's start from the basics. I am 48 years old, live in Venice (Italy), and work in Padova University as a INFN Researcher. I am separated (getting a divorce soon), and have two kids, Filippo and Ilaria, respectively 15 and 11 years of age. My companion is an opera singer, 32 years old. In my free time I play the piano - in the course of the last year or so I have been trying to teach myself to play the "Ballade 1" by F. Chopin - and play in chess tournaments (my elo is 2011, so I am at the level of candidate master).
Apart from piano and chess, I spend my time to improve myself in several directions. For one thing, I am trying to learn more languages: after three years spent trying to get to a decent level in modern Greek, I am currently studying French. Then, during last year I have written a science popularization book, and I am in the process of finding an agent to publish it in the US market (if you know a good one, drop me a line).
My research work centers on the CMS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. That is a collaboration of 3000 scientists which has discovered the Higgs boson in 2012, and is doing cutting-edge research in particle physics at the high-energy frontier. My contribution to the experiment is primarily through my work in the experiments' Statistics Committee, a group of 12 colleagues with marked knowledge in Statistics, who forms recommendations on statistical practices in data analysis, reviews analyses and provides advice to our collaborators. I have been a member of that group since 2009 and I chair it since 2012.
Besides organizing the CMS Statistics Committee, I do data analysis in the area of Higgs physics; lately with my group in Padova we have concentrated our efforts on searches for Supersymmetric partners of the Higgs boson. Now I should explain that I don't believe that Supersymmetry is the right extension of the standard model, but the searches are still quite fun and interesting even if you have that kind of bias in the back of your brain...
I have not always been in CMS - I joined that collaboration in 2002. From 1992 to 2011 I have been a member of the CDF experiment, another hadron collider experiment at the Fermilab in Chicago. During my years in CDF I have studied top quark physics, higgs boson physics, electroweak physics... A little of everything. I have also taken part in the construction of the CMX muon chambers of CDF - so I am not just a data analysis guy, as e.g. the picture below proves (taken in 2000 at Lab 6, Fermilab; behind me is a CMX wedge of drift tubes).
Well, I guess the above is more than what most of you would need to know about me. Of course there are some videos on youtube of presentations I gave, for the nosy ones among you (one at TEDx, for instance). And I guess I will post a link to an execution of Chopin's Ballade 1 when I am done studying it - but that will take probably at least another year!