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Develop methods to estimate distributions of kinematic variables measured from proton-proton collisions at the LHC - Higgs boson production in conjunction with top quarks

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 22, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited for the post of Marie-Curie Early-Stage Researcher (ESR) in the Physics Department at Royal Holloway, University of London as part of INSIGHTS (International Training Network for Statistics in High Energy Physics and Society). INSIGHTS is an EU-supported "Marie Curie Action" project, which funds PhD students in an interdisciplinary programme that includes specialised schools, workshops and secondments in industries and research centres.

The post is available from May 2018 for 36 months. The ESR candidate will be enrolled in the PhD programme in the RHUL Physics Department and carry out a thesis in High Energy Physics with the ATLAS Collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The candidate must not have been resident in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years prior to the start date (further eligibility criteria are given below).


The INSIGHTS network is focused on the development and application of statistical methods for elementary particle physics, as carried out, for example, at research facilities such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, near Geneva. The supported researchers will develop and apply research tools for physics from fields such as machine learning, software engineering, parametric modelling and Bayesian computation. An important component of the network involves knowledge exchange with areas outside particle physics, including finance, risk modelling, volcanology, and climate science.
The INSIGHTS Consortium consists of partners from the UK the United Kingdom (Royal Holloway University of London, University of Edinburgh), Italy (PANGEA, University of Naples, INFN), the Netherlands (Nikhef), Germany (Max-Plank Institute), Switzerland (CERN), Sweden (Lund University) and Norway (University of Oslo).

The research project and environment

The thesis project planned for the candidate based at RHUL is to develop and apply methods to estimate distributions of kinematic variables measured from proton-proton collisions at the LHC for events in which a Higgs boson is produced in conjunction with a pair of top quarks. Such events carry important information on the properties of the Higgs boson. The statistical estimation of differential distributions poses difficult challenges related to the imperfect resolution of the detector. We plan to use methods from Machine Learning to help encode the detector’s response and to constrain the uncertainties connected with it. The thesis research thus includes Higgs physics, statistical modelling, Machine Learning, and associated software development. The INSIGHTS programme foresees around 12 dedicated training events covering software techniques, statistical methods, machine learning and other research topics.
The candidate will be based in the Centre for Particle Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London. The Centre comprises 12 academics, 14 postdoctoral researchers and engineers, and 27 PhD students, working in LHC physics, neutrino experiments, searches for dark matter, accelerator science and particle theory. The Physics Department is located on the beautiful RHUL campus near Windsor Great Park in commuting distance from London. The project foresees secondments at CERN and University of Lund as well as at the UK-based risk management firm FISCAL Technologies.


Successful applicants will have an excellent first degree or masters in Physics, Applied Maths, Statistics or a related subject and should demonstrate dedication to research. Some experience with high energy physics techniques and/or scientific programming is advantageous. Experience related to the LHC and the ATLAS experiment is also advantageous.

Marie Sklodowska-Curie eligibility rules require Early-Stage Researchers to have at most four years’ research experience, counting from the date at which they have been awarded a degree that allows them to embark on a PhD.

To satisfy Marie Sklodowska-Curie mobility criteria, you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the start date (short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account).

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie programme places no restrictions on nationality: applicants can be of any nationality and currently resident in any country worldwide, provided they meet the eligibility requirements set out above.

The post is based in Egham, where the College is situated in a beautiful, leafy campus near to Windsor Great Park and within commuting distance from London.

For further information about the post, please contact Professor Glen Cowan, or +44 (0)1784 443452

To view further details of this post and to apply please visit For queries on the application process the Human Resources Department can be contacted by email at: .

Please quote the reference: 0318-099
Closing Date: Midnight, 17th April 2018

Interview Date: Mid April 2018

Funding Notes

It is expected that this will give an equivalent salary of £33,780 - £38,820 for researchers who fulfil family allowance requirements and £30,300 - £34,920 for researchers who do not fulfil family allowance requirements. This is dependent on personal circumstances and fluctuations in the exchange rate.

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