Carnegie Mellon University

John Alison

Assistant Professor

Nuclear and Particle Physics
High Energy Physics Experiment
Wean Hall 7420



Education & Professional Experience

PhD: University of Pennsylvania (2012)
B.S.: University of Pittsburgh, Physics (2006)


Curriculum ViTAE

Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, 2018–
Fermi/McCormick Fellow: University of Chicago, 2013–2018

Research Interests

The recently-discovered Higgs boson was the final missing piece in our current theory of fundamental particles and their interactions, the Standard Model (SM); it is also believed to be the gateway to understanding what lies beyond. The SM is phenomenally successful but is known to be fundamentally incomplete. It only accounts for 15% of matter in the universe, doesn't include gravity, and cannot explain why the Higgs boson is so light. A dramatic extension to the SM is needed to address these missing pieces. In the coming years, data provided by the Large Hadron Collider, a mammoth particle collider located outside of Geneva, will allow us to search for evidence for a theory deeper than the SM.

The Higgs boson is unlike any other form of matter we've ever seen and is expected to have deep connections with physics beyond the SM. Studying the properties of the Higgs boson and comparing to predictions will allow new theories to be tested directly, as well as furthering our understanding of this truly unique particle. My research focuses on the study of Higgs-boson pair production. This signature has the unique advantage that it can both directly probe models extending the SM and can constrain -- and ultimately measure -- one of the most distinctive and elusive properties of the Higgs boson: its interaction with itself. This self-interaction has deep connections with the cosmology of the early Universe and will allow us to understand how fundamental particles acquired mass.

My group is also heavily involved in detector design and development. CMU is building detector modules for the High-Granularity Calorimeter, an upgrade to the existing CMS detector. We will do automated module assembly, wire bonding, and testing for over 5000 silicon modules. This work will all be done in-house on CMU's campus.

Another major focus of my group is in using recent advances in machine learning to extract more physics from the data provided by the LHC. This includes both improving the algorithms that run in real-time to select which data to record for further analysis and improving classification and regression problems associated with the most common decays of the Higgs boson.

Selected Publications

ATLAS Collaboration, Constraints on mediator-based dark matter and scalar dark energy models using 13 TeV pp collision data collected by the ATLAS detector, JHEP 05, 142 (2019)

ATLAS Collaboration, Combination of searches for Higgs boson pairs in pp collisions at √ s = 13 TeV with the ATLAS detector, Phys. Lett. B 800, 135103 (2019)

ATLAS Collaboration, Search for pair production of higgsinos in final states with at least three b-tagged jets in √ s = 13 TeV collisions using the ATLAS detector, Phys. Rev. D98 (2018)

ATLAS Collaboration, Search for resonances in the mass distribution of jet pairs with one or two jets identified as b-jets at √ s = 13 TeV with the ATLAS detector, Phys. Rev. D98 (2018)

ATLAS Collaboration, Search for pair production of Higgs bosons in the bbbb final state at √ s = 13 TeV with the ATLAS detector, JHEP 01, 030 (2019)

ATLAS Collaboration, Search for light resonances decaying to boosted quark pairs and produced in association with a photon or a jet at √ s=13 TeV with the ATLAS detector, Phys. Lett. B 788 (2019)

ATLAS Collaboration, Performance of the ATLAS Trigger System in 2015, Eur. Phys. J. C 77 317 (2017)

ATLAS Collaboration, Search for strong gravity in multi-jet final states produced in pp collisions at √ s = 13 TeV using the ATLAS detector at the LHC, JHEP 03, 026 (2016)

ATLAS Collaboration, Search for New Phenomena in Dijet Mass and Angular Distributions with the ATLAS Detector at √ s = 13 TeV, Phys. Lett. B 754 (2016)

ATLAS Collaboration, Searches for Higgs boson pair production in the HH → bbττ, γγWW∗ , γγbb, bbbb channels with the ATLAS detector, Phys. Rev. D92, 092004 (2015)

More Publications: