Modus Operandi with Peace Kotamnives

Modus Operandi is a regular series that peers into the methods and personalities of UO  undergraduate scholars. 

Peace Kotamnives is a senior physics and mathematics major conducting research in the Torrence Lab. Kotamnive’s research focuses on the reconstruction of resonance Di-Higgs decay events at the ATLAS experiment which is one of experiments at CERN. I use simulated data from the current boosted analysis with the final state as two bottom quarks, two light quarks, one lepton, and one neutrino. By knowing four-vectors of observable objects, I am able to try on some alternative algorithms in reconstructing process that would give the better resolution of invariant D-Higgs mass.

UROP caught up with Peace to learn more about her modus operandi.

Students get involved in research through a variety of ways. How did you get your start? 

My first research experience at UO was involved with collecting data of concentrated solar plants at Prof. Bothun’s lab, and made graphical interpretation of them. It was challenging in that summer because I spent a lot of time finding data that is usually not published, but it was a good start for computational research. Later, I found my appreciation in writing scripts from taking computational classes, and asked Prof. Torrence to work with him in particle physics research.

Students are busy; do you use any apps or technology to help manage your time and productivity?

Usually, I just simply make to-do lists of the day in my phone in the morning. It helps me keep track of how many hours I should spend on each task or work. But, if there are final exams or important projects coming up, I would make a rough plan of what I should do in 4-5 days in advance with the same note app in my phone.

What are the primary tools, equipment, and/or resources that you use in conducting research? What do they do?

My primary tool to conduct analysis on Di-Higgs reconstruction is definitely my Surface laptop. Since I work with simulated data, I write scripts in PyROOT for processing tremendous amount of events and run analyses on it. To be specific about PyROOT, it is an extension module that I install in my local Python interpreter for using some scientific tools in the ROOT framework. Some functions in ROOT that I call can do relativistic-kinematic calculation and produce histograms. For reading resources, my advisor, Prof. Torrence, sometimes provides me slides and papers that are helpful and interesting for my research.

If you could do research in a different field, what would it be? Why?

I am interested in International study in context of cultural issues. When I took international study class, my research was about Rohingya Refugees who are a minority in Burma. It was a complex issue, and I think doing more research about how multicultural community can live peacefully together would be an interesting topic.

What is your favorite place on campus?

Taylor Lounge in the EMU, science library, and a lobby of the PLC (opposite to Jordan Schnitzer Museum).

What are you currently reading?

I would love to read a book if I have time but currently I updates news or trends from Feedly application.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what genre(s) and why?

Sometimes I do but not usually because I know I can be easily distracted. If I do, my favorite genre is Jazz music from Spotify playlists. I like Jazz because it’s just so relaxed, and feel classy, especially listening in early morning.

How do you stay inspired and energized?

I have some cool people around who can inspired me in different ways, and can be my role models for specific things that I want to achieve. For my daily life, I manage one hour for exercises in the evening such as by running, swimming, or boxing to stay energized afterward.

Have you thought about what you want to do after graduation?

I plan to apply for graduate schools in the US if it is possible. If not, I would find internship, jobs, or volunteer opportunity that are relevant to my research of interests.

What would you say is the greatest benefit of conducting research as an undergrad?

Being an undergrad researcher might sound daunting at first start, but the greatest benefit from it is “trial and error”. It is time to try using our potential and knowledge from what we have learned by following guidance, and doing our best.  Mostly if we fail, the failure can turn out to be an opportunity for making such a mistake in early process and cultivate us to become a better researcher.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be on disciplines, but don’t worry too much (from my father).