Alison Lister

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Large Hadron Collier (LHC)
ATLAS experiment
Search for physics beyond the standard model
top quarks
dark matter
Machine Learning
Long-lived particles

Relevant Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

LHC (Large Hadron Collider)
machine learning


Master's students
Doctoral students
Any time / year round
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).
I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.

Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!

Check requirements
  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
  • Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
Focus your search
  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
Make a good impression
  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
Attend an information session

G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Searches for new high-mass resonances in top-antitop and di-electron final states using the ATLAS detector (2021)

The standard model of particle physics (SM) describes all the fundamental particles and their interactions. It is a very successful theory; however, many experimental observations - such as the origin of neutrino mass, particle origin of dark matter, e.t.c. - are either not consistent or not explained by the SM. So, it is inevitable that there has to be a (physics) model beyond the SM which will consistently explain all these observations, not covered by the SM. Several of such extensions predict new heavy particles that can interact with SM particles. This dissertation presents searches for the resonant production of such high-mass particles in dielectron and top-antitop final states. These searches use proton-proton collision data at the center-of-mass energy of 13 TeV collected by the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) between 2015 and 2018. Electrons are stable and easy to reconstruct, but top-quarks decay instantaneously. Two dominant top-decay final states, all-hadronic and semi-leptonic, are studied in this dissertation. The combined mass distributions of all the final-state particles are used to perform model-dependent and model-independent statistical searches. No evidence for the existence of new particles is found in any of the explored final states. Hence, upper limits on production cross-section times branching ratio and lower limits on the mass of heavy Z' particles, predicted by the BSM models, are placed at a 95% confidence level. The dilepton resonance search excludes Z' boson below 3.6 TeV. The resonance search in the boosted all-hadronic top-antitop final state excludes Z' bosons with a mass lower than 4.1 TeV. Whereas in the semi-leptonic search, the same signal is expected to be excluded up to 3.6 TeV.The dissertation also presents a new algorithm for splitting the merged charge clusters in the ATLAS pixel detector, based on a Mixture Density Network (MDN). The performance of this new algorithm is found to be better than the existing algorithm. As a result, the MDN-based algorithm is expected to be used as a default algorithm in ATLAS during the next data collection period, which will start in 2022.

View record

Searches for heavy vector-like quarks decaying to high transverse momentum W bosons and top- or bottom-quarks and weak mode identification with the ATLAS detector (2018)

The precise understanding of elementary particle properties and theory parameters predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics (SM) as well as the revelation of new physics phenomena beyond the scope of that successful theory are at the heart of modern fundamental particle physics research. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and modern particle detectors provide the key to probing nature at energy scales never achieved in an experimental controlled setup before. The assumption that the SM describes nature only up to a certain energy scale Λ can be relaxed if new particles are present. This helps in particular with the so called "fine-tuning" problem which requires large corrections -- in the SM -- to the bare mass of the Higgs boson in order to be consistent with the observed mass. A possible solution to this problem is the existence of partner particles of the heaviest known fundamental particle, the top-quark. The new partner particles are expected to be up to ten times heavier. Popular examples of theories predicting heavier top-quark partners are supersymmetric theories and theories that add an additional quark sector to the SM which might be a result of an additional spontaneously broken global symmetry. This dissertation documents two searches for heavy top-quark partners, namely vector-like quarks (VLQs), based on the proton proton pp collision data collected in 2015 and 2016, corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 36.1 fb-¹ at a center of mass energy of 13 TeV. It also elaborates on the work that contributed to a successful data taking campaign related to the alignment of the inner most part of the ATLAS detector with emphasis on the identification and mitigation of track parameter biases.No signs for VLQs were found. The strongest lower mass limits on the pair-produced VLQs decaying into W bosons and top- or bottom-quarks are set to 1.35 TeV at the 95% Confidence Interval exceeding the one TeV scale for the first time. In addition, the analyses were re-interpreted for other expected VLQ decay signatures.

View record

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Improvement to the statistical sensitivity of top quark pair production in conjunction with additional heavy flavour jets through multivariate analysis (2016)

With the mass of the discovered Higgs-like boson being 125 GeV, this leads to a primary Higgs decay mode to two bottom (b) jets. A precise measurement of top-pair (tt̄) production in conjunction with two additional b-jets is essential to reduce the background uncertainty on the tt̄ + Higgs production cross-section, a direct probe of the Higgs to Yukawa coupling. This thesis attempts to improve on the statistical sensitivity of tt̄ production in conjunction with two additional heavy-flavour jets, using expected sensitivities from 20.3 fb-¹ of pp collision data at √s = 8TeV, collected by the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012. This thesis compares multiple multivariate analysis techniques, boosted decision trees and artificial neural networks, in both binary and multi-class classification cases. An overall improvement in precision was seen, from 19.7% uncertainty on the baseline tt̄ + bb̄ measurement based on a fit to the best single variable, to 16.1% uncertainty with the very best multi-class neural network algorithm. This represents a relative improvement of nearly 20% and could thus reduce luminosity needed for a precision measurement of this process.

View record



If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Get key application advice, hear about the latest research opportunities and keep up with the latest news from UBC's graduate programs.