Junior Pena

MIT Department: Physics
Undergraduate Institution: University of Southern California
Faculty Mentor: Lindley Winslow
Research Supervisor: Jon Quellet, PhD, Chiara Salemi
Website: LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I am from South Central, Los Angeles and a third year undergraduate majoring in math and physics at the University of Southern California. Currently, I conduct research on pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance techniques for studying nitrogen-vacancy and substitutional nitrogen centers in diamonds. After graduation, I plan to obtain a PhD in physics in hopes of staying in academia to teach and continue research. Outside of academics, I enjoy hiking, listening to music, working out, and hanging out with friends.

2019 Research Abstract

Construction, Cabling, and Calibration Simulations for the NuDot Experiment

 Junior Pena 1, Julieta Gruszko 2, Lindley Winslow 2
1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southern California
2Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In searching for neutrinoless double-beta decay, it is crucial to understand backgrounds in liquid scintillator detectors for these rare events before the next generation of experiments at the kiloton-scale. With sufficient timing resolution to separate scintillation light from Cherenkov radiation, it is feasible to use directionality from Cherenkov light for identifying backgrounds like 8B solar neutrino scattering, which are otherwise irreducible. NuDot is a preliminary 1-ton experiment aiming to demonstrate this technique of separation and event reconstruction with 1 to 2 MeV beta particles. NuDot was under construction during the summer of 2019, with the collaboration making major efforts on frame completion, PMT installation, and cabling. Simulations for NuDot are important for determining the calibration conditions, the amount of source positions needed, and the duration of runs at each position in order to obtain the precise timing calibration for Cherenkov separation. For calibrating, we use water-Cherenkov events from a Sr90 source, and the difficulty lies in simulating the model for how Cherenkov light is produced, how the PMTs behave, and how light propagates through the detector. To aid this issue we use RAT to simulate our experimental setup and calibration runs as closely as possible.