Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Fall 2021 Recipient – Andrew Puyleart

August of 2016, I started my journey toward an Applied Physics Ph.D. at Michigan Tech. I recently left an engineering job and was excited to start working on cosmic ray physics with Dr. Brian Fick. Since then Brian and I have completed several projects together over the course of 5 years.

We started with a service project for the Pierre Auger Observatory. The Pierre Auger Observatory has fluorescence telescopes that only operate on clear-moonless nights. Clouds in our atmosphere disrupt photons from entering the telescope eyes of this instrument. Together we used a modern satellite, GOES-16, to accurately tell if a cloud was present in 2×2 km square pixels that cover the entire array.

Our work now has turned to searching for anomalous air showers that are generated when a cosmic ray interacts with atmospheric matter. These showers typically all look relatively the same; however, when they exhibit exotic behaviors they may hold clues to new particle physics. We are developing methods using the Pierre Auger Observatory to classify which showers are anomalous.

Thanks to the Michigan Tech Finishing Fellowship I will be able to focus on wrapping up this last project. I have coding work, and optimization to finish, as well as finally getting it all written down on paper. With the extra time, the Finishing Fellowship will give me to focus I might be able to avoid another winter here in the Upper Peninsula! Thanks, MTU!


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