Yaroslav Kulii

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

Frankly, all my childhood, I wanted to become a magician. There is something about knowing how to manipulate with things in a way that can make them change the very foundation of their structure. I think second closest to that after physics is chemistry, and I would've become a chemist.


What excites you about your work at Belle II?

The most exciting part is that I actually get to work with very experienced and smart people. There is a professor, who did a PhD, was working in different countries and experiments for a few decades, got a professorship has his own research group and then at the meeting he is sitting, listening to your presentation, trying to understand what you are doing and giving you feedback. You do get a lot to learn, and you do get the feeling that the work you are doing is worth the effort.


What sparked your interest in particle physics / Belle II?

I was always interested in particles, how they decay, interact, come to be. I got my first experience in school, when I got to work with a muon telescope and do a small research. There was something fascinating about how the counter was showing numbers that were random and at the same time the probability was very precise.


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

Right now I am studying a particle named X(3915). It has been seen to decay to already known particles (J/psi and omega), but has properties that it was not expected to have. I will be measuring its properties (spin and parity). This will allow understanding it better and be able I find this topic interesting, because I am actually working with something that is an item of interest in itself. "What is that particle?" - this is the question I will be answering in a way as direct as possible. My analysis might not give the final answer, but it definitely will be a part of it.


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

I have, very unfortunately, started working on this project during the early years of the Corona pandemic, so I have not been able to visit Japan or Belle II.


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

I am a genealogy fan. I like to research my family ancestry and put names and lines together. It is a sort of puzzle, but it is much more valuable, because it is part of the history. I do it like 10 minutes a day after the coffee break in the office, so sometimes my colleagues see me read hardly intelligible ancient texts of a nature much different, than the one that they are used to.


What has been your biggest hurdle so far as a physicist?

The amount of publicity and reporting is quite high, I would say uncomfortably high. But you can't change it. You have to be able to report and explain and tell and talk to quite a high amount of different people. It is more connected with the fact that when doing research at the cutting-edge of physics, all the knowledge is less structured and every detail can be important. The only way to work with it without wasting terrible amounts of time is to present to people, that have the necessary expertise.


Do you plan to stay in science?

I am not sure if I am planning to stay in science. One thing that is particularly discouraging is that you likely get a few temporary positions in different universities for a few years, before finaly landing something more long-term. Travelling is nice, but changing your permanent place of living every two years is hell.


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

There are still extant species of birds like Hoatzin, that have claws on their wings, which enable them to climb trees. The claws are considered to be an atavism, inherited from dinosaur ancestors.


Where are you from?

I am from Lviv, a city in the West of Ukraine.