The focus of Wouter Verkerke's research will be on advanced data analysis in particle physics and astroparticle physics. Particle physicists (who are specialised in the physics of elementary particles) study the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions. With experiments involving particle accelerators – such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva – scientists try to answer questions relating to new particles that emerge during collisions involving high energies (including the Higgs particle) and dark matter. Millions of interactions take place in the detectors every second, resulting in data flows in the order of gigabytes per second. As the amount of data being produced continues to grow, data analysis is becoming ever more complex, with an increasingly important role for big data and grid computing. In his research, Verkerke will focus particularly on the influence of systematic uncertainties in results and in combinations of results of different experiments.
Verkerke's teaching activities will also focus on data analysis and computing. For example, Verkerke will be instructing Master's students of Physics in object-oriented programming in C++. He will also be lecturing in the field of data analysis, instructing doctoral researchers in statistics and providing honours lectures for Bachelor's students of Physics and Astronomy.
Verkerke has been working at the FOM Institute National Institute for Subatomic Physics (NIKHEF) since 2004, where he has been programme leader of the Dutch contribution to the ATLAS experiment at the LHC since 2014. He heads the Dutch ATLAS group together with Dr Nicolo de Groot of Radboud University Nijmegen. In 2015, the Dutch group received the Snellius medal from the Society for the Promotion of Physics, Medicine and Surgery for its contributions to the research that led to the discovery of the Higgs particle. Before taking up his position at NIKHEF, Verkerke was at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he worked on the BaBar experiment. For his doctoral research at the UvA, Verkerke worked on the ZEUS experiment.