[Welcome to the IPNS] Interview with Dr. Shohei Okawa of the Theory Center

In November 2023, Dr. Shohei Okawa joined the Theory Center at IPNS as a researcher.

We interviewed him about what sparked his interest in the world of particle physics, the research he has conducted, and how he refreshes his mind when faced with challenges in his work.

■What sparked your interest in particle physics?

When I was a high school third-year student, I saw the news about the Nobel Prize awarded to Dr. Yoichiro Nambu, Dr. Makoto Kobayashi, and Dr. Toshihide Maskawa. I looked up their winning achievements, which sparked my interest, and wanted to learn more about particle physics.

■What kind of research were you involved in before coming to KEK?

In my doctoral program, I studied the mechanism of dark matter thermal production at Nagoya University. The year before I entered graduate school, the Higgs boson was discovered, and I was initially interested in the origin of electroweak symmetry breaking, but I found myself earning my degree in dark matter production research.
After obtaining my degree, I stayed at the Technical University of Munich for about 6 months under the JSPS Young Researchers Overseas Challenge Program, and then worked as a researcher at the University of Victoria in Canada and at ICCUB, University of Barcelona, for a total of 5 years. At both universities, my main research theme was the construction of models of dark matter and their verification. I also occasionally worked on flavor physics, and for the last three years I have been working on theoretical calculations of axion physics.

■What kind of research do you hope to pursue at KEK?

Dr. Ryuichiro Kitano at the Theory Center and others have proposed a high-energy muon accelerator called muTRISTAN. The idea is to collect a large number of muons, accelerate them to about TeV, and collide them by applying the technology they are developing for the Muon g-2/EDM experiment at J-PARC to produce a low-emittance muon beam. If this could be realized, it would be useful for verifying the Standard Model and searching for new physics, but there is no precedent for building such an accelerator, remaining a number of issues that need to be solved. Now, I joined this research group and investigate how beneficial muTRISTAN would be to our understanding of particle physics.

■Can you share your method of refreshing your mind when facing difficulties in research and work?

I love sports, so on my days off, I enjoy going to watch sports matches or playing soccer myself.

We look forward to your future activities at the IPNS!

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