Francis Bench wins the John G Rutherglen Memorial Prize

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Francis Bench

The John G Rutherglen Memorial Prize was founded in 1977 in memory of John G Rutherglen, Professor in Natural Philosophy 1964-77, and it is awarded annually for outstanding work in experimental High Energy Physics by a postgraduate student at one of the Universities associated with the Daresbury Laboratory High Energy Physics programme. The Universities involved are Glasgow, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.

This year, the prize recipient was our own Francis Bench for his outstanding contributions in the physics exploitation of the T2K experiment, and in particular in the flagship T2K oscillation analysis.

Francis took the main role in performing the electron-antineutrino appearance measurement in T2K. This is a crucial measurement for the direct determination of charge-parity invariance violating (CPV) effects through an asymmetry in the appearance, in the T2K beam, of electron neutrinos and electron antineutrinos. He performed a difficult analysis with due care, scrutinising every detail and addressing every single comment or concern raised by the collaboration. Francis co-authored lengthy internal technical notes, describing several aspects of the analysis and complex supporting studies he performed, and he was invited to join the committee tasked with producing the corresponding publication submitted to PRL (arXiv:1911.07283).

In addition, Francis had important contributions to the main joint 3-flavour analysis of muon-like and electron-like event samples from both the T2K neutrino and antineutrino-enhanced beam data (and, indeed, his electron-antineutrino appearance analysis was an important component of the broader joint analysis). This second analysis produced the most stringent constraints, to date, on leptonic CPV and was recently submitted to Nature (arXiv:1910.03887). Francis is very well-respected and trusted member of the T2K collaboration. Recently, Francis was asked to produce the input studies, for the JPARC PAC, that can influence the amount of beam time and data that T2K collects in the near future. It is highly unusual for a UK particle physics PhD student to be so influential in a large particle physics collaboration and to be so centrally involved in both a Nature and a PRL publication. This prize is a well-deserved recognition.

Francis  is working within the VALOR neutrino fit group and his primary supervisor is Professor Costas Andreopoulos. Several other members of the VALOR group played an important role in the development and day to day supervision of Francis’s work: Dr Steve Dennis (Liverpool) and Dr Davide Sgalaberna (CERN) deserve a special mention.