Fourteen UW alumni and graduate students were thrilled to learn that the team they had worked with won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. “It took a while to sink in,” said Adam Cox, ’08, now a data scientist at IBM. Still, he had known the Sudbury Neutrino Oscillation (SNO) experiment was an important contribution to neutrino physics. “I was already quite proud of my Ph.D. work.”
Alan Poon, who was co-advised by UW professor Hamish Robertson, was also astounded. “It’s hard to express that joy,” he said. “But I will quote a pioneer in solar neutrino research, John Bahcall, who once said ‘I feel like dancing, I’m so happy’ when his solar model work was vindicated by the SNO results in 2001.”
The Nobel went to the leaders of two experiments that uncovered some of the basics of neutrino behavior. Researchers at UW contributed substantially to both, and UW was the lead U.S. institution on the SNO experiment.
“I’d always looked back fondly at all of the long hours, hard work and camaraderie—I miss those days,” said Cox. “Now being a part of a Nobel-Prize-winning experiment makes those all-night shifts and walks from the SNO above-ground lab to the mine entrance at -40 F even more enjoyable.”