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INSULAb by Michela Prest
INSULAb is a group of young experimental physicists led by Dr. Michela Prest working in several fields: from particle physics to medical physics, from antiproton physics to space physics.
The group consists of senior physicists, post-doc, PhD and first and second level degree students with different skills in software and hardware items, collaborating with scientific national and international institutes: the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN, Sections of Trieste, Milano Bicocca, Pavia, Ferrara, Roma1, Torino), CERN, Ospedale S. Anna di Como, PSI, FNAL, SLAC.
The group is expert in the development of detectors systems based on scintillators, scintillating fibers, silicon detectors and their related frontend and readout electronics to be used for tracking, calorimetry, imaging. It is involved in several collaborations:
ASACUSA (AD3, CERN): measurement of low energy antiproton annihilation cross sections at the CERN Antiproton Decelerator. The group has been responsible of the development of the frontend and readout electronics of the scintillating fiber tracker which has been commissioned during 2006 together with the whole data acquisition system. Data have been taken during 2007 at 5MeV and are being studied for the next run (2008) before modifying the electronics to go to lower energies. The group is also involved in the analysis and simulation activity.
H8RD22 (CERN): study of the effects of the passage of high energy particles in bent silicon crystals in view of the application of these crystals to the collimation of high energy beams. Up to now tests have been performed on one of the beamlines (H8) of the CERN SPS. The group is responsible of the whole tracking system (consisting of compact, fast and high precision silicon microstrip detectors), of the data acquisitions during the runs, the online analysis and several items of the offline analysis. During 2008, an upgrade of the tracking detectors is foreseen to reduce data taking times and new studies about the radiation emission of channeled particles will require the development of a photon tag system to reconstruct the energy and number of emitted photons.
PhoNeS and much more: the medical physics component of the group is very determined. It profits from a strong collaboration with the medical physicists of the Como S. Anna Hospital and it moves in several directions. In 2005, we have been one of the projects financed by MIUR (PRIN05) for the development of a real time, cost effective, tissue-like dosimeter for the photons and electrons produced by radiotherapy linear accelerators. Since 2005, we have been collaborating with the INFN PhoNeS (Photo Neutron Source) project for the development of a hospital neutron source to be used in BNCT (Boron Neutron Capture Therapy) to treat extended, located near vital organs or radio-resistant tumours. We are using this source also to image the boron distribution inside the cells to study the best carrier for each tumour type.
AGILE: the AGILE satellite has been launched from India on the 23rd of April and has already completed its first 3000 orbits. Together with the INFN Trieste group, we have been responsible of the main instrument onboard the satellite, that is the silicon tungsten tracker to reconstruct the gamma rays once they have converted, and of the satellite calibration at the Beam Test Facility at the Frascati INFN National Laboratories.
The members of the group have participated to many international conferences, have won several prizes for their activity and are authors of many papers on international journals.
The details of the activities, the publications and much more can be found in this website.
My personal last consideration goes beyond the scientific and technical aspects of INSULAB. INSULAB is a group of young people who are really motivated in what they do. They work in different fields but they really have built a “group” of friends where everybody is ready to help everybody else. It all started 5 years ago, when I arrived for the first time in this University. Students become part of our “enlarged family” since their first years, they get involved in what we do and learn as much as they can; we share time, lunches, coffees, ideas, dreams. This last line is a thank you to my “boys and girls” as a teacher and as a human being.
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