Slavomira Stefkova

What would you have become if you had not become a physicist?

I would love to be a baker. Satisfaction of a good dessert is many-fold: from its creation, through the execution to its disappearance.


What excites you about your work at Belle II?

1) You get to study the mysteries of the universe ;) 2) Work is versatile: you get to work on many aspects of experimental particle physics: detector, physics performance all the way to data analysis 3) And most importantly you collaborate with excellent and inspiring physicists from all around the world


What sparked your interest in particle physics / Belle II?

I found it fascinating that you can describe the most fundamental blocks of the matter and their interactions with few equations. And I want to figure out what is the missing piece.


What are you working on now and what fascinates you about it?

I am working on several projects at the moment. Firstly, I am concentrating on measurements of b -> s transitions with missing energy. This is exciting because many well-motivated new physics models could manifest themselves with this signature. Secondly, I am working on development of a new tracking algorithm using Graph Neural Networks, which is fun because you get to design, benchmark and deploy an algorithm itself. And finally I am also very interested in making Belle II results reusable for purposes such as re-interpretation and combination, making most our of our publications.


Have you been to Japan and Belle II? If so, what made the biggest impression?

Yes, I was lucky to still travel before the pandemic hit. I was definitely impressed by the Japanese culture. Everything from travelling, food, to free-time activities is very different to European culture. Size of spiders in October and earthquakes stayed in my memory too. Finally, I was also surprised by the fact that you can stand few meters above Belle II detector while the beam is on.


What is your favorite thing to do when you are not busy with Belle II?

Dancing, baking, yoga and skiing.


What was the funniest experience that happened to you in your day-to-day work?

I have two stories that come to my mind. Just recently, I asked Peskin (yes, the guy that wrote that book) to show me a room in the building, completely oblivious to who he was. Second story, when I was a starting PhD student, I was asked to check light-tightness of a box by slowly removing a cloth from it. This was very funny, I felt like a magician.


For doctoral students/early researchers: Do you plan to stay in science?



What is the most amazing/interesting scientific fact for you?

1) That okapi is related to giraffe and not to zebra. 2) Polar bears are invisible to infrared cameras because their fur is so
good at keeping the warmth.


What do you think will be the next (particle) physics discovery?

Light dark matter in b->s transitions ;).


Do you have a role model? If so, who?

Yes, definitely Marie Curie. She was a smart, dedicated, and humble woman. And she would use a bike for transport.


What would you like to say to yourself 10 years ago?

Take as many programming classes as possible.


Where are you from?

I am from the heart of Europe: Bratislava, Slovakia.

What would you tell someone who is just starting out and wants to get into the Belle II project?

Come, there is so much to do! If you are curious and want to make an impact, this is a place to be. And you get to go to Japan.