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Oct. 4, 2012

ResearchBriefs

Baylor physicists contribute to Higgs boson findings

Baylor postdoctoral research associate Dr. Azeddine Kasmi presented the latest results on the search for the Higgs boson from the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) experiment at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in July in Melbourne, Australia.

The results represent years of intense work by physicists to seek the Higgs boson in high-energy particle collisions. Theoretical physicists in the 1960s predicted the existence of the Higgs as a way to explain why elementary particles in the universe have mass, but the Higgs has eluded experimental observation for decades.

The Baylor High Energy Physics group, led by Dr. Jay R. Dittmann and Dr. Kenichi Hatakeyama, has played a prominent role in the search for the Higgs.

"We're thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary scientific endeavor," said Dittmann, associate professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor. "Members of our Baylor team have been involved in the search for the Higgs boson at all levels, from analyzing data to presenting high-profile scientific seminars to composing publications for our scientific collaboration. Now, we can finally claim the observation of a new particle that could be the long-sought Higgs boson. It's tremendous."

Baylor team members have impacted the Higgs search at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) through their expertise with "jets," entities that indicate the presence of quarks and gluons in the experimental apparatus, and "missing energy," which is important for detecting certain heavy particles like W bosons.

Others from Baylor who were involved in the research include postdoctoral research associates Nils Krumnack and Hongxuan Liu, and graduate students Karen Bland, Martin Frank, Tara Scarborough and Zhenbin Wu.

The Experimental High Energy Physics group at Baylor has been engaged in experimental elementary particle physics research on the CMS experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, since 2010 and the CDF experiment at Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., since 2005.

Baylor Statistics and Eli Lilly honored for collaboration

The working relationship between Dr. John Seaman, professor of statistical science at Baylor, and his former doctoral student, Dr. Stacy Lindborg, PhD '96, has led to a strong collaboration between Baylor's department of statistical science and Eli Lilly and Company. That partnership was recently honored by the American Statistical Association with the Statistical Partnerships among Academe, Industry, and Government Award.

The collaboration began in 1996 with Seaman and Lindborg, who joined Lilly after completing her doctorate in statistics at Baylor, on a project that involved the application of methods that she developed in her dissertation from Lilly data. The partnerships grew from there, with several other doctoral students working on problems with missing data. In the fall of the 2005, Lilly awarded Baylor with $100,000 to expand the relationship across Lilly to non-Baylor alumni and engaging all faculty at Baylor.

In 2008, at Lilly's request, Baylor faculty and doctoral students began working on projects from Lilly's research and development portfolio. By doing so, the Baylor-Lilly relationship expanded to include funding for faculty in the statistics department, as well as students working in research and development. To date, this joint research initiative has generated nearly $200,000 for Baylor University to fund work by faculty and students.

Anger in disputes more about marital climate than heat of moment

How good are married couples at recognizing each other's emotions during conflicts? In general, pretty good, according to a study by a Baylor University researcher. But if your partner is angry, that might tell more about the overall climate of your marriage than about what your partner is feeling at the moment of the dispute.

What's more, "if your partner is angry, you are likely to miss the fact that your partner might also be feeling sad," said Dr. Keith Sanford, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences. His study -- "The Communication of Emotion During Conflict in Married Couples" -- is published online in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology.

Sanford found that while a partner will easily and immediately recognize expressions of anger, the spouse often will fail to notice the sadness.

"A take-home message is that there may be times where it is beneficial to express feelings of sadness during conflict, but sad feelings are most likely to be noticed if you are not simultaneously expressing anger," Sanford said.

The study was supported in part by a grant from the Baylor University Research Committee.

Sanford has developed a free interactive Internet program for couples titled the "Couple Conflict Consultant" located at pairbuilder.com. This program provides a personalized assessment of 14 different areas of conflict resolution and a large resource bank of information and recommendations for couples.

Forgiveness study carried by everyone from MSNBC to Cosmo

Research by Dr. Jo-Ann Tsang, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences, found that an apology is more effective even than restitution when it comes to gaining forgiveness. Making amends can help, the study found, but an apology is often needed to repair the damage fully.

The study underscores the importance of both restitution and apology and of using multiple measures for forgiveness, including behavior, said Jo-Ann Tsang. Her findings were published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, but also have been picked up by mainstream media ranging from MSNBC to London's Daily Mail to newsstand staple Cosmopolitan.

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