He Interned at the Largest Particle Physics Lab in the World: Meet Scott Lieberman

Scott Lieberman did an internship at CERN, the world's leading research center for particle physics.

The Dorman Honors College attracts some of the brightest students in the nation, a perfect example of which is Scott Lieberman, a senior who has two  majors -- applied physics and applied math -- yet still manages to maintain a near-perfect GPA.

Outside of the classroom, Scott has worked as a research assistant at the NJIT Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research. And this summer, the National Science Foundation paid him to do research at Duke University, where he participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. He worked as a summer researcher in Duke's High Energy Physics Group.

Of more siginficance, Scott was one of four students in the program selected to spend five weeks at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Located on the French-Swiss border, CERN is the world’s leading research center for particle physics. It’s a great privilege for an undergraduate to intern at CERN, and Scott was able to work with world-renowned scientists. He observed them as they used hugely complex instruments such as the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, to study the universe.

The renown of CERN was not lost on Scott. Last year, he said, two scientists at CERN discovered the Higgs Boson particle, which led to a major scientific discovery: How fundamental particles have mass. Earlier this year, those two scientists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, won the Nobel Prize in physics.

“During my five weeks at CERN I learned a lot about the pioneering research being done in the field of particle physics such as neutrino oscillations and super-symmetry,” he said. “I also had the chance to conduct my own research on what is known as jet charge of quark decays and inverse problems -- an experience that can’t be had in the classroom. It was an amazing experience."

CERN scientists also gave him a tour of the underground ATLAS detector and Large Hadron Collider, which at 27 kilometers is so large that it extends across France and Switzerland.

The internship also allowed him to live abroad. He lived with other interns in an apartment in France. Each morning they attended CERN lectures given by leading experts in high-energy physics. The trip expanded his educational and cultural horizons, something the Dorman Honors College emphasizes. It was his first trip abroad, and Scott and his friends travelled throughout Switzerland. One weekend, he and a group of friends also took the high-speed rail to Paris, where they visited the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum and ate in French restaurants.

After he graduates in May, Scott plans to study physics in graduate school, and he hopes his internship at CERN will help him get into the best graduate programs in the world.

“This was my first time on a plane and my first trip abroad and the internship was rewarding both intellectually and culturally,” says Scott. “I’m extremely grateful to NJIT and to the Honors College for challenging me to make the most of my studies and enabling me to succeed in my field.”

By Robert Florida