Who are you? Can you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Dr Bjoern Seitz. I was born about 40 years ago in Kassel, Germany and went to study physics at the University of Goettingen, graduating with a first class degree in 1995. During that time I already pursued experiments in photo-nuclear physics at MAXlab, Lund, Sweden.
I continued my studies at the same University pursuing a PhD in nuclear physics on the very first double polarisation experiment in meson photon production, conducted at the electron accelerators at MAMI, Mainz, Germany and ELSA, Bonn, Germany.
Following my PhD work, I moved to the Centre for Subatomic Research, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada to join the HERMES collaboration investigating the spin structure of the nucleon at HERA, DESY, Hamburg, Germany. After two years I moved from Canada to the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, continuing to work for the HERMES experiment, but moving physics focus from spin structure function to the new fields of semi-inclusive and hard-exclusive reactions.
Throughout my career, I was always working on a large variety of aspects, from phenomenological interpretation to instrument construction, from Monte-Carlo Simulations to data analysis.
I took up my current position as permanent academic staff member at the University of Glasgow in 2006, shifting my emphasis from existing to future experiments, namely the PANDA experiment at FAIR, the experiments at Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News, VA, and a possible Electron Ion Collider. I currently specialise in the development of novel photon detection and particle identification methods as well as potential applications of these detector technologies for healthcare or environmental applications.

You are leading an activity within the HP3 project – which are the scientifically exciting aspects of your research project?

The experiments planned in the field of hadron physics are at the precision frontier. In order to enhance our understanding of the strongest forces in nature, governing the behaviour of the smallest particles known to mankind, experiments need to be highly sophisticated in preparing a reaction as well as observing its outcome. For the latter, it is mandatory that all reaction products are classified in terms of their energy, charge, momentum, origin and direction of flight. The work package led by me is concentrating on developing a detector system measuring the velocity of all charged reaction products impinging on it, thus enabling to identify their particle species. While this development is necessary to pursue the ultimate scientific goals of the hadron physics community, it poses formidable challenges of its own, namely the detection of very faint flashes of light at high rates and with large detection backgrounds.
As such, we are developing novel technologies to cope with the requirements posed by the physics questions we would like to answer. These require seemingly off-topic investigations into optical design, material sciences, vacuum technology and nano-fabrication, to name a few. And it promises to also deliver a technology with a large variety of potential applications outside the narrow field of nuclear and particle physics, which makes the challenge all the more exciting.

Who are the participants to your project?

The participants in our project are a small, but powerful group of experts scattered across seven institutions in Europe, from the University of Uppsala in Sweden to the Joszef Stefan Insitute in Ljublijana, Slovenia, from some of the oldest Universities in the world, like the University of Glasgow, to national research institutions like the Forschungszentrum Juelich in Germany. In addition we work with commercial partners in the UK and Germany.

What do you want to achieve with this activity?

The purpose of this activity is twofold. The main emphasis is on the development of a novel photon detection devices with hitherto unmatched performance parameters and new production techniques. This in itself will be a a major achievement. The second part of the project is the prototyping and application of a novel type of Cherenkov detector and use this in beam at the WASA experiment at COSY, Juelich, Germany.

In which way your activity could be of benefit for the society?
We are providing an enabling technology for fundamental research. The pursuit of knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world surrounding us is a high value in itself and a pinnacle of cultural achievement. We will open doors to new discoveries which where previously impossible to achieve. On a more mundane level, the performance parameters expected of the novel photon detection device, if finally realised, will provide a potentially disruptive technology for a variety of medical imaging modalities.

Why do you think a young person should choose to study science and is there any reason for which should they do so in Europe?

A knowledge in Science provides more then just a career. The study of science never ends, the scientific method, once learned, will permeate many aspects of life. Irrespective of a career in science, the deeper understanding of the world around us and the questioning mind as trained in the study of science will always be a great benefit. Working in fundamental research, and be it only for a small fraction of a professional career, provides opportunities to provide insight and knowledge for mankind which are hard to achieve in any other career. In addition, a solid background in science and technological developments which are coming with scientific work will have strong benefits for all people and promise to provide solutions for the grand challenges we face as a human race in the near and far future.
Europe has been a centre of the scientific endeavour for centuries. Despite the growing competition from other continents, it still provides an exciting environment with a higher appreciation of intellectual freedom then found elsewhere in the world.
Study science, and study it well, you won't regret it.

The HadronPhysics3 project is supported by the European Union
under the 7th Framework Capacities Programme in the area of Research Infrastructures (RI).