Young Scientist Honored for Work at DESY

This year, the prize of the Association of the Friends and Sponsors of DESY for the best Ph.D. thesis covering the DESY research program goes to Dr. Jürgen Wendland from the Simon Fraser University in Canada. His thesis made a decisive contribution to the explanation of the proton spin, a fundamental property of the proton, one of the elementary particles of matter. The prize was presented during the open session of the Extended Scientific Council at DESY on Monday, June 21.

Dr. Jürgen Wendland

from left: Dr. Jürgen Wendland, Prof. Erich Lohrmann

The thesis of Dr. Wendland has the title „Polarized Parton Distributions Measured at the HERMES Experiment”. The HERMES experiment is one of the large experimental facilities at the HERA storage ring. Its purpose is to investigate the origin of the proton spin. This spin still remains somewhat of a mystery, because – apart from being composed of three valence quarks that give it its identity – the proton is filled with an entire “sea” of short-lived quarks, antiquarks and gluons which all bear a spin. How can this whirling confusion form a particle with a clearly defined spin? Dr. Wendland determined the spin contributions of the quarks, separately for each type of quark. He was able to show for the first time that sea quarks and antiquarks contribute only to a minor degree to the spin of the proton. This suggests that the gluons are an important source for the spin.

Prof. Erich Lohrmann, Chairman of the Association of the Friends and Sponsors of DESY, stated that the work of Dr. Wendland made a decisive contribution to explain the so-called “spin puzzle”, a big step towards the understanding of the proton. Of course, these complex research tasks cannot be solved in a solo-attempt. This is why the laureate points out that his graduation at the HERA experiment was an exciting challenge and the good cooperation in the HERMES group was an important prerequisite for the completion of his work.

Jürgen Wendland was born in Aurich (Northern Germany) and studied physics at the Technical University at Braunschweig (Germany). After his 'Vordiplom' he went to the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby (Canada) where he got his Master diploma in 1999 and graduated in 2003 within the HERMES experiment. During his studies he received several scholarships and awards; among others one of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). At present, Dr. Wendland is employed at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada) and works at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), a large neutrino detector.