The UO team working on CERN's ATLAS project

The search for the Higgs boson — a theorized particle that is believed to provide for mass to the basic building blocks of matter — began more than two decades ago.

The Higgs boson was first predicted by a group of physicists that included Peter Ware Higgs, now an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. When Nobel laureate Leon Lederman authored a book on the search, the publishing company dubbed it "the God particle" to generate interest; while the term has stuck, many scientists avoid it.

The research effort at the Large Hadron Collider, located on and under the Swiss-French border, includes a group of University of Oregon scientists, who are part of the ATLAS group.

This group is led by faculty members Jim Brau, David Strom, Ray Frey and Eric Torrence.

Others are Nick Sinev, a senior research associate, postdoctoral researchers Mansoora Shamim and Chris Potter, and graduate students Elizabeth (Liza) Brost, Elizabeth Ptacek, Peter Radloff, Andreas Reinsch and Jacob Searcy. Strom is now the ATLAS trigger coordinator.

Strom, Shamin, Reinsch and Brost currently reside at CERN and work on the ATLAS experiment. Potter, Searcy and Ptacek previously had lived on site.

A new member will join the UO membership in the fall, when Stephanie Majewski arrives as an assistant professor. Majewski, who earned her doctorate in 2007 from Stanford University, currently is at CERN as a member of the team from Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The Oregon experimental High Energy Physics group was established in 1988 with the goal of contributing to the search and discovery of the Higgs boson.

"Now, after nearly a quarter century of the Oregon group's existence, we are on the threshold of the sensitivity needed to address this significant topic," Brau said. "We are excited."