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Flavia Cicala

Current Research

I started my Ph.D. studies at the University of Warwick in 2018 in the Elementary Particle Physics group.

I work on the LHCb experiment, at CERN. My main physics analysis is the study of B meson decaying to π, μ, μ.

My Ph.D. also includes designing and simulating components of the TORCH detector, which identifies particles based on their time of flight from when they were produced to when they reach the TORCH. The TORCH detector has been proposed as a component of the LHCb's future upgrades. My supervisors are Dr. Thomas Blake and Dr. Michal Kreps.

Why study how the B meson decays?

What is Dark Matter made of? Why is the visible Universe only made of matter? Where is all the antimatter of the Universe? These are some of the great questions physicists are trying to answer through their research. In the current theory, known as the Standard Model, Dark Matter is not present and the matter-antimatter balance is not very skewed towards matter. The observations performed in the Universe around us however, strongly suggest that the Standard Model is not the full picture of particle physics. Searching for new particles could shed some light on these unknowns.

When protons and antiprotons collide at high energies, as happens in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, energy is converted into many different particles. New particles can be produced directly from the proton-proton collision or they can influence the way other particles’ production and decay. A B meson is sometimes produced, and then decays. B mesons can decay in many different ways and I am studying the case of it decaying to a pion, a muon and an antimuon. According to the Standard Model theory, this decay is extremely rare. Previous research on similar decay processes shows deviations of experimental results from Standard Model predictions. Finding that the B meson decaying to a pion, a muon and an anti-muon is more abundant than expected could be a sign of the presence of a new particle, or of a physical process we are not aware of. New particles and processes could explain the discrepancy between what the Standard Model predicts and what we see in real world observations.


Since joining the University of Warwick I have taken part in teaching undergraduates by demonstrating the physics first year labs and electronics workshop.

In 2020 I was awarded Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

Previous Studies

I graduated in physics in 2016 for the Università degli Studi di Milano with a final year project on experimental Dark Matter, which consisted on a calibration analysis for the DarkSide 50 experiment. In 2016 I attended both the CUREA program in observational astronomy held at Mount Wilson Observatory (CA), and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) summer student program, in Taipei. There I researched the creation of dust by Sun-like stars in nearby galaxies. I then studied Particle Physics at Royal Holloway University of London and joined the Dark Matter and Neutino group. In 2018 I completed my MSc with a master project that consisted in designing and building a dark matter direct detector prototype.

Contact Details



Office: P449

Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL