Ziegler is a petite woman, with a calming voice and soft French accent. Her features are somewhat hidden behind her draping black hair and glasses; but her face lights up as she talks about particle physics. Clearly, science is running in her veins.
After graduating from a small university in Iowa with a master's degree in physics, Ziegler worked as a programmer and data analyst for a phone company. "Pretty soon, though, I realized maybe this wasn't what I wanted to be doing," she says with a smile. Ziegler pitched an idea for a paper on plasma and soliton physics to a friend's graduate adviser. She spent her free time and weekends doing the mathematics for the paper, which she and her friend published together. For her work Ziegler earned a strong letter of recommendation to return to school for her doctorate.
Ziegler joined the BaBar collaboration in 2002 as a graduate student at the University of Iowa, where she explored hyperons and hyperon resonances. After graduation, she came to SLAC to do her postdoctoral work on three-body decays from D mesons. When asked about her work, she grabs some paper and a pen and presents a fluid deconstruction of the complex topic.
When the ηb ("eta-sub-b") analysis began a few months ago, Ziegler was recruited for her superior data skills. "This wasn't like what I normally do. But I saw that it was one of the core analyses that needed to be done," she says. "When we started the ηb project, we didn't know if we were going to find a signal. But we found a big peak. The ηb analysis was very exciting." Though her native language is French, she is fluent in English and easily explains the work she carried out on the ηb data.
Ziegler says working with BaBar has offered her the chance to network with other scientists and get new ideas for analysis projects. She's wondering whether she will continue to analyze BaBar data in the future, or see what opportunities future experiments will offer. When asked about her hobbies outside her busy schedule at SLAC, her quiet, soft manner reappears: she enjoys painting with water colors.