At only 26, Dayna Thompson’s hard work and interest in physics led to her working with a Nobel Prize-winning science team.
The Valparaiso native studied under Purdue University Calumet Professor Neeti Parashar, one of the many contributors to this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics project that discovered the Higgs boson subatomic particle, dubbed "the God particle."
“It’s an elementary particle – meaning that it cannot be broken down into other particles as we understand them today. Its existence explains why some fundamental particles have mass,” Thompson said.
A 2010 physics graduate of PUC, Thompson assisted Parashar during the 2006-07 school year.
“Starting my sophomore year, I worked with Dr. Parashar at Fermilab testing components for the Forward Pixel Detector. I would cool them to below freezing temperature and warm them back to room temperature multiple times,” she said.
“The Forward Pixel Detector is now at the core of the Compact Muon Solenoid, a detector on the Large Hadron Collider – the highest-energy particle collider in the world. It provides high-resolution, 3-D tracking of subatomic particles produced by the high energy collision of protons.”
Thompson also holds a master’s in physics, and is employed as an assistant planetarium director at Ball State University in Muncie.
“We get a lot of school groups that visit our planetarium. When the elementary students come in they are so excited that it is contagious.”
“It is great to see that they are even more excited about space and science after their visit – now knowing more about it. I try to make that the case for everyone who visits,” she added.
A Muncie resident, Thompson is a member of the Ball State University Women’s Club, Muncie Astronomy Club and Sigma Pi Sigma, a physics honor society.