Who am I?

I am an enthusiastic and creative thinker with 15 years of experience in academic and scientific research, technical projects, community service, and education at all levels. I have worked at institutions around the globe with people coming from a diverse array of backgrounds. I strive to improve the welfare of every individual and our global community while empowering others to do likewise.

Thinker and Technical Handyman

Problem solving and big data

I enjoy asking questions that challenge myself and others, bringing definition to ill-posed problems, and finding solutions. I pursued a PhD in particle physics out of an intrinsic curiosity to understand the fundamental laws of nature. Since that time, I have developed the ability to manipulate and tease out meaning from big data sets, to construct and operate high speed electronics, and draw insights into the natural world. My mantra is "learn, discover, be excited!" and I relish every opportunity to share this excitement with others.

People Person

Dynamic leader and mentor

As a member of one of the 3000-person ATLAS collaboration, I have cultivated a set of "soft skills" that enable me to better serve others. Particle physics is an international endeavor with a global community, is both cooperative and competitive, and inherently relies on individuals learning (and teaching) while pursuing their own research. I know how to prioritize my work to pursue multiple projects in parallel while guiding teams to succeed. I strive to catalyze communication within a team and I prioritize mentor others to cultivate talent - the stronger your teammates become, the stronger your team becomes.

My Journey

This is an abbreviated list of my formal education and professional path. In many cases it highlights only superficial details (i.e. where, when, what ...) and as formative as academic and work experience can be, and for me has been, I feel its important to always remember that much more than what can go on paper makes an individual.

2019 - Present

Feynman diagrams

2015 - 2019

Feynman diagrams

University of Washington


Post-doctoral Research Associate

2014 - 2015

Feynman diagrams

African Institute for Mathematical Sciences


Assistant Lecturer - Honorary Researcher

2009 - 2014

Feynman diagrams

University of Chicago


Ph.D. Experimental Particle Physics


My "way back machine" ...

2005 - 2009

Feynman diagrams

University of New Hampshire


B.Sc. Physics and Applied Mathematics (Summa cum laude)

1997 - 2005

Feynman diagrams

Chazy Central Rural School


Valedictorian - New York State Class D Boys Soccer Champion

1996 - 1997

Feynman diagrams

Homeschooled


First (and last) in Class - Grocery Store Math Champion

1993 - 1996

Feynman diagrams

Westside Elementary School


Enthusiastic learner of Egyptian history - Challenged reader - Hockey player

1992 - 1993

Feynman diagrams

Meeker Elementary School


Kindergartener - Sushi Enthusiast




Mark Twain

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

What do I do?

My curiosity led me to pursue physics and it has perpetually boggled my mind that we can begin to comprehend the natural world (... let alone anything). At the same time, I hold the belief that without caring for the welfare of others, many efforts are done in vain. As such, I have intrinsically been drawn to activities and initiatives involving other people.

Science

Searching for a frictionless vacuum

A fascination with the extremes of nature, a desire to deconstruct and understand "the thing that that other thing is made of", and an appreciation for the abstract beauty of creative thought - these were the most valuable lessons that Mr. Dumoulin showed me in high school science. I set off to university to become a medical doctor, but ended up a philosophical doctor practicing experimental particle physics at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. [Spoiler Alert : the vacuum is anything but a vacuum.]

Great Scott!

ATLAS Experimental Collaboration @ CERN

2008-Present

Dark Matter and New Physics

I search for new particles and forces (e.g. dark matter) not currently described in the paradigm of particle physics by studying the data collected by the experiment. This requires translating physical intuition and an appreciation for the abilities (and limitations) of a physical detector into performant computer programs. These programs are integrated with the millions of lines of code within the collaboration’s analysis framework, and used to process large datasets using a grid of cloud computing resources distributed around the world.

Automated Computing

I work to automate the data analysis that we do by developing declarative, pipelined workflows. This not only allows for the same code to be used multiple times in the context of physics searches to make new and interesting statements about hypothetical scenarios, but can also take the busy work out of standard (but complex!) detector calibration procedures. This improves efficiency of analysis turnaround and frees up the time of others in the collaboration to think more creatively.

Hadronic Jets

I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about “hadronic jets”, which are collimated sprays of dozens of particles. The way these particles orient themselves with respect to each other, their “topology”, can tell you a lot about the type of particle from which they originated at the collision point in a bubble whose radius is about one femtometer (one one thousandth of a millionth the width of a human hair). Understanding their behavior requires not only physical intuition and programming but often times the use of machine learning. I specialize in understanding jets coming from W bosons and top quarks as well as those originating from the Higgs boson

Leadership and Management

My talents and ability to perform good research while helping others succeed has been recognized multiple times within the collaboration. I have been elected multiple times to lead groups ranging from a few students to upwards of a hundred collaborators on topics including (i) dark matter searches, (ii) hadronic jet tagging team, and (iii) Higgs boson tagging.

FASER Experimental Collaboration @ CERN

2019-Present

Ultra Long-lived Particles

Perform searches for ultra-long-lived particles produced in proton proton collisions at the LHC in a region of the accelerator that is left uncovered by the ATLAS experiment - down the beamline.

Electronics and Data Acquisition

I am one of the core designers and developers of the faser/daq data acquisition system, specifically the portion responsible for reading out the trigger and timing scintillators and the calorimeter signals. It is this detector readout that bears the sole responsibility of identifying interesting signals for which the data from the entire suite of detectors will be recorded.

Large Area Picosecond Timing Detectors

2009

Faster Detectors

Novel development of detectors is critical to furthering particle physics and creating technologies that can be transferred to have a broader impact in society (e.g. medical applications). Timing resolution (i.e. how accurately a detector can identify *when* something occurs) is one of these improvements. Typical detectors have an accuracy of of a nanosecond (a thousandth of a millionth of a second). In this project, we wanted to do a factor of one thousand better.

Microchip Design

Early in my graduate career, I contributed to the design of first generation ASIC for front-end of large-area photo detectors with picosecond timing resolution by designing the low level circuitry for the readout microchip of the detector.

Sleeping Worms

2009-2010

Sleep Science

Although there are hypotheses, no one really knows why we sleep. However, we can study behavior analogous to the state of sleep in simple organisms, primarily the C. elegans nematode. This organism’s nervous system has about 1000 neurons and is remarkably identical from specimen to specimen. [david byron lab chicago]

Surgical Lasers

I designed and constructed a pulsed laser system to perform non-invasive dissection of the C. elegans nematode nervous system. The worms were not killed and with the system you can manipulate a specific part of their nervous system and see what happens (e.g. Does it still sleep?).


Education and Engagement

Lightbulbs ... and more lightbulbs

Learning is amazing, but to me teaching is beautiful. To me, it lives on the boundary of science and art - crafting universal knowledge in a uniquely personal way so that it can be internalized by another. And then the moment they get it, the lightbulb turns on, and the lamppost of humanity grows a little brighter.

A pedagogue you say?

Educator/Advocate at African Institute of Mathematical Sciences

2014-Present

Community Advocate (2015 - Present)

Serve as ad-hoc advocate for the AIMS institution to those interested in teaching at AIMS, and AIMS students interested in pursuing opportunities elsewhere.

Formed grassroots advocacy for AIMS-Swiss partnership and organized inaugural AIMS in the Alps networking event.

Lecturer (2018 & 2019)

Created an original course entitled “The Life of a Particle” that introduced students to stochastic modelling using the Monte Carlo method in the context of quantum and particle physics.

Implemented the course on two occasions in (i) 2018 [Link to Course Website] and (ii) 2019 [Link to Course Website]

Thesis Supervision (2017)

I provided remote supervision and mentoring for two masters students in South Africa and Rwanda for their AIMS capstone research projects.

Designed a self-guided research project focused around programming, the Monte Carlo method, and hadronic jet physics.

Assistant Lecturer (2014-2015)

I supported courses for a cohort of 50 students taught by more than 30 different lecturers at AIMS South Africa. These ranged from quantum mechanics (aquarely in my wheelhouse) to computational neuroscience and financial mathematics (a bit further afield).

I designed and implemented focused training tutorials for small groups in the evening. These were both technical in nature and focused on math/science but also supported the writing skills and professional development of the students.

HEP Software Foundation

2019-Present

Founding Training Lead

I was one of the founding convener of the HEP Software Foundation Training group which was formed for research-oriented training in software and computing skills in physics.

Educational Content Development

I designed original curricula to supplement a formal particle physics education. The pedagogical philosophy of our training largely borrows from that of Software Carpentries with the ultimate goal to promote building a knowledge base in the community in a sustainable way.

Teaching and Training

I developed and lead numerous training events focused around supplemental research education for audiences of between 30 and 200 scientists both in person and distributed/virtual

Assistant Lecturer at California State University

2017-2020

Mentorship

Assist in mentorship of first-generation university students from California State University participating in the NSF-REU summer student program at CERN.

Curriculum Development

I designed curricula focused on programming and research skills in particle physics - Link to Course

Remote Teaching

Implemented class on three separate occasions (2017, 2018, 2020) as a set of lectures given via video-conference to approximately 20 students throughout the the CSU system during the spring semester as preparation for summer student program.

Upward Bound Space Explorers Program

2012-2014

Program Volunteer and Lead

I volunteered for two years and served as lead instructor for one year with the Space Explorers outreach program through the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Office of Special Programs at the University of Chicago.

Consistent Outreach

I designed and taught weekly laboratory-based STEM lessons on Saturday morning for 20 minority high school students from the south side of Chicago.

"Space Camp" @ Yerkes Observatory

I lead the design and implementation of multi-day hands-on science camps at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI. 2013 - Transforming Energy with Simple Machines. 2014 - Renewable Energy and Green Engineering

CERN Tour Guide

2011-Present

Public Tours

I lead English-speaking tour groups through numerous CERN experimental facilities to engage and educate the public on particle physics and collaborative, experimental science.

A Bilingual Weekend of Particles

I engaged tour groups in English and French throughout the entire course of the CERN OpenDays weekend in September 2019.

Arts|Science Fellowship

2013 - 2014

A Collision of Science and Tromp-l'oeil

I was awarded one year fellowship to collaborate with artist Anthony Adcock to create painted visual expression of LHC collisions - Link to Videography

Primary and Secondary School Science Outreach

2007-Present

Pinkerton Academy (2017) - High School

Implemented a multi-day workshop to educate high school students at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH in particle physics using the [ATLAS outreach toolkit].

Chazy Central Rural School (2017 & 2018) - High School

Designed and implemented a high school physics enrichment short-course aboutparticle physics and research at the Large Hadron Collider at Chazy Central Rural School in Chazy, NY.

Lindblom Technical Academy (2011) - Middle School

Invited judge for the Lindblom Technical Middle School Science Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

CAURS Research Fair (2011) - College

Invited judge for the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium in Chicago, Illinois.

St. Thomas the Apostle School (2010) - Elementary School

Invited judge for the St. Thomas the Apostle Elementary School Science Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

Rye Public School (2007) - Elementary School

Invited judge for the Rye Elementary School Science Fair in Rye, NH.


Community and People

We all need one another

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I am grateful though, that the links in the chain of humanity can reach out to reinforce one other. I am grateful for those who have supported me and I strive to "pay it forward" to support others by acting as mentor or part of a support network, heaving through bureaucracy for to achieve good, and at other times through simply saying, “Thankyou”.

It takes a village ...

Kente Connect

2018-Present

Founder and President

I am the founder and current president of the Kente Connect charitable organization whose mission is to promote information communication technologies (ICT) training in rural Ghana.

Service

Organized the donation of laptops and peripheral devices from the United States to junior high school in rural Ghana and organized ICT teacher training in (i) January 2019 (Delivered twenty laptops, a projector, and a printer to the Bomfa Junior High School) and (ii) August 2020 ( Delivered five laptops and peripheral devices to the Adonwomase Junior High School.)

US Particle Physics Snowmass Process

2020-Present

Diversity and Inclusion Lead

I am a co-leader of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion group for the Snowmass process, focusing on exploring how topics related to EDI (e.g. race, mental health, gender) manifest in our community and how we succeed and fail when encountering and addressing them.

Ethics Advisor

I served on the inaugural Ethics Committee to created initial Code of Conduct and Community Guidelines for the APS Division of Particles and Fields Snowmass community planning process to establish professional guidelines for a diverse community of over 3000 members.

US Particle Physics Research Community Advocate

2012 & 2016

Community Advocate

I represented the US-LHC Users Association in the annual visit Washington, DC to meet with congressional offices and advocate for the continued funding of fundamental research.

Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program

2008-2009

Victim Advocate

I counseled victims of sexual harassment in the University of New Hampshire and Durham, NH communities on behalf of Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program.

Sustainable Development Service Volunteer with St. Thomas More Parish

2008 & 2009

2009 - Honduras

Developed sustainable agriculture projects in northern Honduras near San Francisco de la Paz.

2008 - Appalachia

Performed home repair in solidarity with underserved communities in rural West Virginia with Nazareth Farm.

Student Resident Assistant Manager

2006-2008

Healthy Communities

Cultivated healthy and inclusive community environment in university dormitories of up to 300 students.

Event Organizer

Organized activities focused on academics, diversity, and healthy living to augment the classroom education and enrich university life for my fellow students.

Policy Enforcement

Enforced university policy on behalf of the Office of Residential Life.


Dalai Lama

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

How I Can Help

Data Analytics

10 years experience in c++, python, and machine learning in collaborative environments. I can help you make cool plots.

Computing Systems

Data acquisition system design, distributed grid computing, and workflow automation. Let me help you build it.

Professional Review

I have helped dozens of students and colleagues improve their resume/CV and personal statements.

Organizational Guidance

I have built a team and started a non-profit, from scratch. Have an idea? Let's make it happen!

Pedagogical Design

Curricula design and implementation for diverse groups of students on technical subjects. I can help you build your class.

Teaching

Organizing, implementing, and supporting educational events for all ages around the world. Let's teach together.

Martin Luther King Jr.

"Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"

Sam I Am

(aka hobbies, interests, thoughts ...)

I consider myself a hiker, a runner, a reader, a chef ... the qualities that come with these hobbies are normal, some may be intense or idiosyncratic to others, but all are what make me the "Sam" I am.



Only pictures? ... no

Running

My Perspective

Running is how I meditate actively to preserve my own inner balance on a day to day basis. Whether a quick 5k after work or a marathon 50k daylong haul, every run provides an opportunity for an insight into life. And though getting to the end is not always pretty (or possible) getting out there is always worth it, even for a beer mile.

Mountains

My Perspective

Whether it is the Adirondacks in northern New York in the winter, hiking across Table Mountain in South Africa, or hiking from refuge to refuge through the Alps mountains inspire me with their power and ability to serve as a sanctuary to (safely) lose oneself. When possible, I treasure the ability to get into the mountains.

Investment in Africa

My Perspective

Africa is home to the fastest growing population and will be home to a majority of the world’s youth within our lifetime. The myriad of 21st century challenges necessitates a rapid increase in the standard of living throughout the African continent in a sustainable way. This is an intentional focal point of my professional life and enriches my entire life in many ways.

Community Building

My Perspective

I believe that local communities and face-to-face interactions (i.e. neighbors) serve as an integral part of society. And for communities to be successful, they must be cultivated. I enjoy that this can happen while doing something constructive (e.g. hauling firewood) that helps in a focused and pragmatic way. Though I also appreciate, and let’s face it I often prefer, when this happens over a pint of beer or by sharing a meal and breaking bread together.

Organizing and Planning

My Perspective

Chicken or the egg - which came first? I don’t know if my perverse enjoyment of organizing events and trips for groups with google docs came before or after I learned to organize for my research, but its a fun idiosyncracy that helps me make the most of any given trip with friends. So I’ll take it!


Henry David Thoreau

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Get in touch

smeehan12@gmail.com

Although my other contact info is available if you search (not that hard probably) on the internet, I prefer email. I have some social media accounts, but prefer to not use them, particularly if it is my first time meeting you. So email me if :

  • You feel we share a common vision and can collaborate on a project.
  • You think that my talents may be of service to you or your organization.
  • You are curious about something and want to have an open discussion.
  • You want to go for a run or hike up some mountain.