As evidence of what our students are able to accomplish during their time at Michigan, Melissa Hutcheson, a Winter 2021 graduate, was awarded the Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award in Experimental Particle Physics by the American Physical Society (APS). She is the first student from the University of Michigan to win the award since its inception in 1999.

Dr. Hutcheson received the award, “For work on the construction and operation of the KOTO experiment to search for the decay KL->pi0nunubar.

Dr. Hutcheson is thrilled to win this award. She says, “I am so very honored to accept the Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award. My thesis work wouldn’t have been possible without the support and guidance of my advisor, Professor Myron Campbell, as well as funding support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. This work was truly the result of a collaborative effort, and it was through the contributions of all members of the KOTO collaboration that it was accomplished.”

The dissertation work in question focused on the collection and analysis of data from the KOTO experiment located at the J-PARC research facility in Tokai, Japan which aims to measure the extremely rare decay of a particle called the kaon. During her graduate studies, Dr. Hutcheson contributed to many aspects of KOTO, including data collection, data acquisition system operation and performance evaluation, as well as detailed analyses in the search for this rare decay, KL→π0νν. For her thesis she analyzed data collected from 2016-2018, the results of which yielded the world’s highest sensitivity in the search for KL→π0νν and three candidate events observed in the signal region, as well as the identification of two new background sources, an important step for KOTO’s future searches.

After earning her degree, Dr. Hutcheson transitioned to working as a process engineer at Intel Corporation in the Logic Technology Division, helping to develop manufacturing processes in Lithography for current and next-generation semiconductor chip technologies. She is excited to use her expertise and contribute to advancing microprocessor technology for scientists and people all over the world.

The Mitsuyoshi Tanaka award recognizes exceptional early-career scientists who have performed original doctoral thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in the area of experimental particle physics. The APS will give Dr. Hutcheson further recognition at the 2022 APS April Meeting this spring.

More Information:

Dr. Melissa Hutcheson

Professor Myron Campbell