Mayda Velasco

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Mayda Marie Velasco
Born 1966
Nationality Puerto Rican
Alma mater Northwestern University
Scientific career
Institutions Northwestern University
Thesis  (1995)
Website Northwestern University
Director of COFI

Mayda Velasco is a physicist and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University. She works in experimental particle physics and is a leading member of the CMS Collaboration at the CERN LHC. She founded COFI and is its first director.[1] She is a pioneer in the physics potential of photon colliders,[2]

Early life and education

Velasco went to high school at Academia Maria Reina in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras) and attended graduate school in physics at Northwestern University where she obtained her PhD in 1995 with Don Miller and Ralph Segel as advisors.

Research Activities

Velasco's research career spans a wide range within experimental particle physics. She obtained her Ph.D. by making the first measurement of the spin structure function g2(x) using data collected by the Spin Muon Collaboration. She became a CERN Fellow in 1996 and joined the NA48 experiment Collaboration at CERN. This experiment made precision measurements of neutral kaons especially as regards CP violation. It also investigated rare kaon decays.[3] Velasco formed her own collaboration to perform the NA59 experiment at CERN. This experiment demonstrated the channeling of high energy particles in bent crystals and studied the production of circularly-polarized high-energy photons.[4] This topic connected well with her pioneering work in the physics potential of photon colliders,[2] which she advocated at the Snowmass Meeting in 2001. Following that meeting, she promoted the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) accelerator at CERN.[5]

Velasco joined the faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University in 1999. At that time she joined the Main injector oscillation neutrino search (MINOS) Collaboration to study neutrino oscillations. She left MINOS to join the CMS Collaboration at CERN - one of the two general-purpose experiments at the CERN LHC—where she continues to play a leadership role. Her work has an important impact on the current understanding of the Higgs boson: she spearheaded the rare Z+photon decay channel which, in principle, can distinguish the standard model Higgs boson from those beyond the standard model.[6]

Awards and Distinctions

Velasco was awarded a Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2002. She also received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation and she is a recipient of the CERN Achievement Award.

Velasco serves as a member[7] of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) that advises the United States Department of Energy.

Velasco was given the Dean's Award for Diversity in 2015.[8]


Velasco founded the Colegio de Física Fundamental e Interdiciplinaria de las Ámericas (COFI)[1] in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is its first General Director.

See also


  1. ^ a b "COFI – Colegio De Fisica Fundamental E Interdiciplinaria De Las Americas".
  2. ^ a b "New results for a photon-photon collider".
  3. ^ "Observation of the rare decay K(S) ---> pi0 mu+ mu-".
  4. ^ "Results on the coherent interaction of high energy electrons and photons in oriented single crystals".
  5. ^ "Higgs physics with a gamma gamma collider based on CLIC I".
  6. ^ "Search for a Higgs boson decaying into a Z and a photon in pp collisions at sqrt(s) = 7 and 8 TeV".
  7. ^ "Members of HEPAP".
  8. ^ "Dean's Award for Diversity at Northwestern University".

External links

  • Northwestern faculty page
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