Sau Lan Wu
Sau Lan Wu (Chinese: 吳秀蘭) is a Chinese American particle physicist and the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She made important contributions towards the discovery of the J/psi particle, which provided experimental evidence for the existence of the charm quark, and the gluon, the vector boson of the strong force in the Standard Model of physics. Most notably, the team she worked in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is part of the international effort in the discovery of a boson consistent with the Higgs boson, the so-called 'God Particle'.
Wu was born in Hong Kong and went to Vassar College in 1960 with a full scholarship for her undergraduate degree. Initially she dreamed of becoming a painter, but was inspired by Marie Curie to devote her life to physics. During her years in Vassar, she spent a summer at Brookhaven National Laboratory where the science of particle physics captivated her. Reminiscence of her years in Vassar, Wu relished the experience and recollected her adjustment to the American society and culture as a difficult but positive one. During her freshman year she and other Vassar students were invited to the White House for an Easter function and met Jacqueline Kennedy, a Vassar alumnae (class of 51). She first experienced racial discrimination when visiting the Supreme Court and was confronted with the choice of ‘black’ or ‘white’ on the door to the restroom.
Wu graduated from Vassar College (1963) with a B.A. in Physics. After earning a M.A. (1964) and a Ph.D. (1970) in Physics from Harvard University, she conducted research at MIT, DESY and the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Professor of Physics. Since 1986, Wu has been the Visiting Scientist at CERN conducting research with the LHC as part of the ATLAS team.
Wu is a team member working on the ATLAS particle detector, one of the two main detectors at CERN (the other one is CMS). Her team specializes in studying simulations of particle collisions that mimic the data that will be produced by the LHC based on current theories. On 4 July 2012, CERN announced the discovery of a boson consistent with the predicted characters of Higgs boson. More analysis is still required to definitively ascertain whether this Higgs-like boson is indeed the Higgs particle. As of 6 March 2013, the data analyzed points to the direction of positive identification. If confirmed, the discovery will complete the Standard Model of particle physics which explains the visible Universe.
- Outstanding Junior Investigator Award of U.S. Department of Energy, 1980
- Romnes Faculty Award, University of Wisconsin, Madison 1981
- Hilldale Professorship, University of Wisconsin, Madison 1991
- Fellow, American Physical Society 1992
- High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society 1995, with Paul Söding, Björn Wiik, and Günter Wolf, for the discovery of the gluon.
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1996
- Vitas Professorship, University of Wisconsin, Madison 1998
- S. Braibant, G. Giacomelli, M. Spurio (2009). Particles and Fundamental Interactions: An Introduction to Particle Physics. Springer. pp. 313–314. ISBN 978-94-007-2463-1.
- "ATLAS and the Higgs". CERN. October 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Dawson, Lindsay (Summer 2003). "A Charmed Life". Vassar Alumnae Quarterly. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics at UCLA (16 March 2001). "Sau Lan Wu". Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1976". Nobel Prize. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Ellis, John (July 2009). "Those were the days: discovering the gluon". CERN Courier 49 (6): 15–17.
- "The High Energy and Particle Physics Prizes". European Physical Society. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Sakai, Jill. "Heart of the Matter". University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- "A question of spin for the new boson". CERN. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.