Gaskell completed his Ph.D. in Nuclear and Particle Physics at Oregon State University last spring. He is currently working as a postdoc at the University of Colorado, and is scheduled to return to JLab in September as a Hall C staff physicist.
His research paper was based upon work he did in Hall C, between February and April 1998, during experiment E91-003. "I was working on a couple other small projects at the Lab," Gaskell recalls, "but I wasn't really scheduled to work on any particular experiment for my thesis. E91-003 was coming up, and there was only one other thesis student on the experiment at that time (Steve Avery from Hampton). So Hall C's Rolf Ent and Thia Keppel asked one of the experiment spokespersons (Hal Jackson from Argonne) if I could work on his experiment for my thesis."
Gaskell's biggest challenge was determining the best way to analyze and present the data. "On the one hand, the experimentalist in me wanted to interpret the data as little as possible - just produce and present the results in the most straightforward way, so a theorist could pick up the results and use them as-is. On the other hand, it's not very intellectually satisfying to not interpret your data at all. I tried to strike a balance between the two - doing some relatively simple interpretation, but trying to make it very clear what was a measured result and what was 'my take' on what that result meant."
He remembers his nearly two years at the Lab fondly. "I had a great time at JLab. So many people were really helpful," he says. "I worked on a variety of things before E91-003 ran - a couple different laser projects, several small analysis tasks, and helping to run other experiments."
Gaskell was excited to learn that he'd received the thesis award. "Wow," he exclaims. "You work a lot on writing this thing, but you don't really think anyone outside of your supervisor and Ph.D. committee will really read it. Just finishing your thesis is very rewarding, but it feels good to know that someone else thought it was a good piece of work. I want to acknowledge all the people who helped me along the way."
Does he have any special plans for the $1,000 check he received for writing the winning thesis? "No, not really," the young man says with a smile, "but my wife, Karen, keeps joking that I need to buy her a kayak."