Sinead Farrington

2021 United Kingdom Award Winner — Faculty

Sinead Farrington

Current Position:
Professor of Experimental Particle Physics

The University of Edinburgh

Nuclear & Particle Physics

Recognized for: Leadership of an international working group at CERN that has improved our understanding of the properties of the Higgs boson, and development of key trigger and analysis techniques for the exploitation of Large Hadron Collider data and searches for new physics beyond the Standard Model.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Higgs Boson, Standard Model of Particle Physics, Tau leptons, Triggers, Long Lived Particles

Previous Positions:

MPhys, The University of Edinburgh, UK
PhD, University of Glasgow, UK
Research Fellow, University of Liverpool, UK
Advanced STFC Fellow, University of Oxford, UK
Professor, University of Warwick, UK

Research Summary:

Sinéad Farrington, PhD, is a leading particle physicist working at the frontiers of knowledge. Particle physicists attempt to understand the interactions between the basic building blocks of matter, or elementary particles. This understanding is encapsulated in the Standard Model, one of the most precise and far-reaching theories known in science. In the Standard Model, elementary particles can be divided into two categories: fermions and bosons. Fermions make up all of the stable matter in the universe, while bosons are responsible for transmitting forces. A key ingredient of the Standard Model is the Higgs mechanism, suggested in 1964, which serves two purposes: it gives mass to bosons responsible for the weak force and, via Yukawa interactions, gives mass to all of the known fermions.

During 2013-15, Farrington was co-leader at CERN of an ATLAS working group of around 100 people. This group showed that the Higgs boson transforms spontaneously, or decays, to a pair of tau leptons, which are a type of fermion. This measurement provided the first direct evidence that these Yukawa interactions exist. Furthermore, the strength of the measured Yukawa interactions agreed with the Standard Model predictions. Farrington also developed the triggers needed to record the tau lepton data and the analysis techniques needed to understand those data. These contributions enabled her to lead a team to make the then most precise determination of the Higgs boson’s quantum numbers in 2016.

Farrington is leader of the ATLAS-UK activity. Recently, she has also led efforts to define future computing needs and input to the European strategy for high energy physics. She is currently searching for unknown, long-lived particles decaying to tau leptons, which would represent new physics beyond the Standard Model.

"High energy physics is a collaborative endeavour involving very talented individuals from around the world, working together to build machines on a grand scale, and to analyse the data they generate to help us understand how the universe works at its deepest levels. I am privileged to have been able to contribute to this endeavour and to help provide some pieces of nature’s great puzzle."

Key Publications:

  1. ATLAS Collaboration. Test of CP Invariance in Vector-boson Fusion Production of the Higg Boson Using the Optimal Observable Method in the Ditau Decay Channel with the ATLAS Detector. Eur. Phys. J. C, 2016.

  2. ATLAS Collaboration.Evidence for the Higgs-boson Yukawa Coupling to Tau Leptons with the ATLAS Detector. Journal of High Energy Physics, 2015.

  3. ATLAS Collaboration. Identification and Energy Calibration of Hadronically Decaying Tau Leptons with the ATLAS Experiment in pp Collisions at  = 8 TeV. The European Physical Journal C, 2015.

  4. ATLAS Collaboration. Observation of a New Particle in the Search for the Standard Model Higgs Boson with the ATLAS Detector at the LHC. Physics Letters B, 2012.

Other Honors:

2019Consolidator Grant, European Research Council
2019-2022Principal Investigator, ATLAS UK
2019-2020Senior Experimental Fellowship, Institute of Particle Physics Phenomenology, Durham University
2015-2016Physics Validation Coordinator, ATLAS
2013-2015Co-Convenor for the ATLAS Collaboration “HSG4/Higgs to Leptons” Group, CERN
2007-2012Advanced STFC Fellowship, Science and Technology Facilities Council
2007-2011Research Fellow, Brasenose College, University of Oxford
2006-2007Co-convenor for the CDF Collaboration Bs Mixing and Lifetimes Group, Fermilab
2005CDF Offline Operations Convenor