Melissa A. Hutcheson
Recipient of the Tanaka Dissertation Award
For work on the construction and operation of the KOTO experiment to search for the decay KL->pi0nunubar.
About the Recipient
Invited talk session: K02.00006
Melissa Hutcheson earned her B.S. in physics from Agnes Scott College in 2015 and her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan in 2021, under the direction of Prof. Myron Campbell. Starting her graduate career, she was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Rackham Merit Fellowship in 2015. Her doctoral research was in experimental high energy physics where she worked on the KOTO experiment located at the J-PARC research facility in Tokai, Japan which aims to measure the extremely rare decay of the kaon, KL→pi0nunu. During her graduate studies she contributed to many aspects of KOTO, including data collection, data acquisition system operation and performance evaluation, as well as detailed analyses for the KL→pi0nunu search. In 2019 she was awarded a Department of Energy Science Graduate Student Research Fellowship to work with members of the LPC at Fermilab on an independent research project utilizing machine learning techniques to reduce background sources in KOTO. For her doctoral thesis she analyzed data collected with KOTO from 2016-2018, the results of which yielded three candidate events observed in the signal region, along with identifying two new background sources. 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.