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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

Physics Undergraduate Spotlight: Paul Gebeline

The University of Mississippi table at the 88th conference of the American Physical Society Southeastern Section at Florida State University in Tallahassee in November 2021.  Pictured from left to right: Gavin Davies, assistant professor working on experimental particle physics with the NOvA experiment; Sakul Mahat; Paul Gebeline; Wil Stacy; Matthew Mestayer; and Jake Bennett, assistant professor working on experimental particle physics with the Belle II experiment.

Paul Gebeline is a senior from Kiln with double majors in mathematics and physics at the University of Mississippi.

He is working with Jake Bennett, an experimental elementary particle physicist and assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and presented his research findings as part of the Belle II experiment at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society at Florida State University in Tallahassee in November 2021.

The Belle II experiment at the SuperKEKB accelerator in Japan—a collaboration with more than 1,000 physicists and engineers from 26 countries—aims to investigate great mysteries of particle physics, including why, if matter and antimatter should have been created in equal amounts after the big bang, is the universe today filled almost entirely with matter?

Gebeline examines the lifetime of a particle called the Xi_c+ using simulations from the Belle II experiment.

“It is an important analysis for two reasons: 1) it serves to confirm the most recent measurement made by the Lhcb, which is the most reputable particle accelerator in the world, and 2) to test the capabilities of the particle accelerator/software at Belle II (i.e can Belle II make competitive measurements?),” he explained.

Paul Gebeline

Paul Gebeline

How did your interest in physics develop?

I had a really good high school teacher. A good teacher can make you love any subject. Before having him I wanted to be a nurse!

Talk about your college experience as a physics major and work participating in research.

Physics is hard. I’m also double majoring in mathematics, so having 18 hours of advanced math/physics class, teaching an intro physics lab, and research, it can all get overwhelming. But my classes are (mostly) fascinating, as is my research, so that’s motivated me to press on. It’s hard, but it’s fun, so it’s worth it!

“I was very lucky to get into research freshman year because I had my advisor as a professor for intro physics, and he likes to talk about his research. I found it interesting and asked to get involved, and I’ve been working with him for four years,” he said.

“I have learned post-graduate level physics as an undergraduate, learned how to present—a very valuable skill in physics academia, and learned how to conduct academic research in general. Research has brought me connections with professors/researchers from other schools and invaluable skills that make me an asset to any grad school program. And finally, after a few more months of work, I can have a Physical Review Letters published paper before I’m even a graduate student, which is incredible!”

Discuss your career goals.

I want to be a professor, the same kind that made me love physics. I can teach a cool subject but also do my best to make sure students have that one cool teacher that they respect, because that’s very important in an educational environment.