dave z. Besson

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Physics and Astronomy
Primary office:
Malott Hall
Room 5093
University of Kansas
1251 Wescoe Hall Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045


background in physics


I have taught at the 100-level for the last 20 years or so. Over that period, I have tried to maintain a schedule of

PHSX114 (300-person enrollment first-semester course for pre-health professions students) in one semester, followed by

PHSX115 (second course in the sequence) the next semester. As a 100-level class, this is obviously

among the easiest teaching assignments in the Department, and I am thankful to the Department Chair and scheduling officer for continuing to indulge my requests. If possible, I

plan on continuing this pattern for the foreseeable future.

In those courses, I've developed an independent, self-formulating homework system which

I've used for the last two years, which, at least judging by student surveys, is preferred compared to traditional online systems.

As is evident from my (habitually awful) evaluations, there are obviously many areas that could benefit from considerable improvement.

In addition, I usually teach, as an overload, an Honors Freshman Tutorial for the last decade,

with a social issues focus.

In advising, I am currently the

sole faculty member in particle astrophysics, leading a research group varying between 3-6 graduate students and a comparable number of


I generally try to provide as wide a variety of research experiences to my students, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Our group has had generally good placement, including good post-doctoral positions and also faculty positions


Our group initiated the field of experimental radiowave detection of cosmogenic neutrinos with the RICE experiment in 1995; after a total of 30 trips to Antarctica by KU personnel, it has since grown to a multi-experiment endeavor

involving at least 25 international institutions. (I was, in 2017, invited to write a review article on the field, and also asked to give the plenary talk at the most recent International Cosmic Ray Conference.)

We participate on three of the current experiments, and have provided crucial hardware to all three of these, with

a recent specialization in low-cost, high-voltage radio-frequency transmitters.

For the future, we hope to maintain our strategic position in the field of particle astrophysics

and continue to develop novel experimental hardware and detection strategies. As the primary locale for our

experimental work is Antarctica, we have historically worked on improving our understanding of the

radio-frequency properties of cold Antarctic ice.

For the next few years, our work will likely unfold, as follows:

1. Develop hardware for the next-iteration of the NASA-sponsored HiCal experiment (``HiCal-3'', based at the University of Kansas). The previous iterations (HiCal-1; 2014-15 and HiCal-2; 2016-17) were based on the piezo-electric signal generation scheme, which generated large signal amplitudes, but were not gps-triggerable. For HiCal-3 (2019-21), we anticipate using an Arduino-based voltage avalanche scheme into a higher-bandwidth antenna, to allow an enhanced physics program. Data from the HiCal-1 project forms the basis of graduate student Jessica Stockham's thesis. Incoming student Alisa Nozdrina will, as a follow-up to the main HiCal science goals, measure the radio-frequency reflectivity of Antarctica using parasitic signals from satellites.

2. With the ARA experiment, and with a similar mark of transmitter antenna, perform a follow-up to the South Pole Ice Core Experiment measurements performed in January, 2018, using a KU-developed pulser. Here, the goal is to calibrate the entire Askaryan Radio Array (ARA) using ~10-nanosecond duration pulses, propagating through 2--4 km of South Polar ice. Graduate student Latif is currently using ARA data as the focus of his Ph.D. thesis. Incoming graduate student Andrew Shultz will also have an ARA-focused Ph.D. thesis.

\item With the ANITA experiment, continue our work on understanding the dielectric properties of ice in the 100 MHz--1000 MHz frequency regime. This effort is the subject of graduate student Mark Stockham's thesis, and has resulted in four publications within the last three years. Graduate student Emma Ralston is taking over this effort from Mark.

3. With the ARIANNA experiment, develop a follow-up to the transmitter currently deployed on Mt. Discovery, Moore's Bay, Antarctica, for which, our solar panel power provision failed for unknown reasons, so that power was restricted to battery only.

4. Continue to develop the possibility of cosmic-ray detection using radar reflections from showers in dense media. A beam test, to demonstrate feasibility of this approach, is the focus of Prohira's Stanford Fellowship this semester. Four undergraduates are also working, in concert, on this problem.

5. Enlarge our footprint on the Belle- and Belle-II projects, for which three analyses (search for U(4S)->eta'U(1S), investigation of /\c/\c correlations, and search for U(1S)->open charm were initiated over the last several years, but, owing to personpower limitations, remain unfinished).

Research Interests

  • Cosmic rays
  • Cosmogenic neutrinos
  • Askaryan effect


I have, within the last two years, in addition to two domestic proposals, also reviewed large (300-4000 kEuro) proposals to the National funding agencies in Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. I have been asked to serve on the promotion committee for one outside Department (Texas Tech) and also been the outside reviewer for two international Ph.D. candidate (University of Groningen, Netherlands). I have reviewed four particle astrophysics journal papers and three in experimental particle physics.

Departmental Service Work:

I have, over the last few years, served as advisor to the KU Society of Physics Students (SPS). In 2016, with three SPS student members, we submitted a \$2000 proposal to the National SPS organization to develop a novel cosmic-ray detector

based on the high nuclear interaction cross-section of Boron. Our proposal was, in fact, one of three selected that

year, and provided the funds necessary to develop an initial version of the cosmic-ray detector hardware. Undergraduate

Brendon Madison has spear-headed this effort; in addition to a full-scale hardware prototype, Brendon has also written

all necessary readout firmware and software, and is in the process of assembling a complete, GEANT-based simulation.

That initial SPS effort matured into a full-scale, NASA proposal to launch a CubeSat satellite, with Brendon's detector

forming one of the four payloads. If granted, that satellite would telemeter data for 2--5 years, in a circumpolar orbit.

In conjunction with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology faculty Ben Sikes,

real-time monitoring of viable fungus cultures would allow us to determine the effects of episodic cosmic-ray events

on plant metabolism (payload \#2).

The third of the four payloads is a variant of the HiCal transmitter, which would be used to provide a common

calibration source to a large number of terrestrial radio-based cosmic-ray detectors.

As part of this effort, KU SPS also worked with the Cordley Elementary School Coding Club in 2017 and

sponsored a successful weather balloon launch from the Cordley playground.

Other outreach:

I have typically led 1--2 classes/activities per year for the KU Osher Continuing Education Program. The next

such class (spring, 2018) takes on the question of whether humanity advances in some absolute moral sense, and whether

we are currently in the midst of a `paradigm' shift.

Selected Publications

Besson, D. (in press). Design and Performance of the ARIANNA Hexagonal Radio Array Systems .

Gorham, P. W., & Besson, D. (2017). Antarctic Surface Reflectivity Measurements from the ANITA-3 and HiCal-1 Experiments. DOI:10.1142/S2251171717400025

Abbasi, R. U., & Besson, D. (2017). First Upper Limits on the Radar Cross Section of Cosmic-Ray Induced Extensive Air Showers. Astropart. Phys., 87, 1-17. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2016.11.006

Barwick, S. W., & Besson, D. (2017). Radio detection of air showers with the ARIANNA experiment on the Ross Ice Shelf. Astropart. Phys., 90, 50-68. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2017.02.003

Gorham, P. W., & Besson, D. (2016). Characteristics of Four Upward-pointing Cosmic-ray-like Events Observed with ANITA. Phys. Rev. Lett., 117(7), 071101. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.071101

Schoorlemmer, H. & Besson, D. (2016). Energy and Flux Measurements of Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays Observed During the First ANITA Flight. Astropart. Phys., 77, 32-43. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2016.01.001

Schoorlemmer, H. & Besson, D. (2016). Energy and Flux Measurements of Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays Observed During the First ANITA Flight. PoS, ICRC2015, 272.

Besson, D. (2015). A First Search for Cosmogenic Neutrinos with the ARIANNA Hexagonal Radio Array .

Barwick, S. W. (2015). A First Search for Cosmogenic Neutrinos with the ARIANNA Hexagonal Radio Array. Astropart. Phys., 70, 12-26. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2015.04.002

Besson, D. (2015). Antarctic Radio Frequency Albedo and Implications for Cosmic Ray Reconstruction. Radio Science, 50(1).

Barwick, S. W. (2015). Design and Performance of the ARIANNA HRA-3 Neutrino Detector Systems. IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci., 62(5), 2202-2215. DOI:10.1109/TNS.2015.2468182

Kunwar, S. (2015). Design, Construction and Operation of a Low-Power, Autonomous Radio-Frequency Data-Acquisition Station for the TARA Experiment. Nucl. Instrum. Meth., A797, 110-120. DOI:10.1016/j.nima.2015.05.072

Alvarez, R. (2015). Experimental Probes of Radio Wave Propagation near Dielectric Boundaries and Implications for Neutrino Detection.

Aartsen, M. G. (2015). IceCube-Gen2 - The Next Generation Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole: Contributions to ICRC 2015.

Barwick, S. W. (2015). Livetime and sensitivity of the ARIANNA Hexagonal Radio Array. Proceedings, 34th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC 2015): The Hague, The Netherlands, July 30-August 6, 2015. http://inspirehep.net/record/1391269/files/arXiv:1509.00115.pdf

Barwick, S. W. (2015). Radar absorption, basal reflection, thickness and polarization measurements from the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 61, 227. DOI:10.3189/2015JoG14J214

Barwick, S. W. (2015). Time Domain Response of the ARIANNA Detector. Astropart. Phys., 62, 139-151. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2014.09.002

Besson, D. Z., Kennedy, D. M., Ratzlaff, K. & Young, R. (2014). Design, Modeling and Testing of the Askaryan Radio Array South Pole Autonomous Renewable Power Stations. Nucl. Instrum. Meth., A763, 521-532. DOI:10.1016/j.nima.2014.06.005

Aartsen, M. G. (2014). IceCube-Gen2: A Vision for the Future of Neutrino Astronomy in Antarctica.

Abbasi, R. (2014). Telescope Array Radar (TARA) Observatory for Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays. Nucl. Instrum. Meth., A767, 322-338. DOI:10.1016/j.nima.2014.08.015

Besson, D. (2014). Telescope Array Radar (TARA) Observatory for Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays.

Besson, D. (2013). Radio-frequency probes of Antarctic ice at South Pole. The Cryosphere, 7(3), 855-866. DOI:10.5194/TC-7-855-2013

Besson, D. (2013). Radio-frequency Probes of Antarctic Ice birefringence at South Pole vs. East Antarctica: evidence for a changing ice fabric. The Cryosphere, 7, 855-866.

Belz, J. & Besson, D. (2013). TARA: Forward-scattered radar detection of UHECR at the telescope array. DOI:10.1051/epjconf/20135308012

Schröder, F. G., & Besson, D. (2013). Tunka-Rex: a Radio Antenna Array for the Tunka Experiment (ARENA 2012). AIP Conf. Proceedings. DOI:10.1063/1.4807531

Besson, D. Z. (2012). Background studies for acoustic neutrino detection at the South Pole. Astroparticle Physics, 35(6), 312-324. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2011.09.004

Allison, P. & Besson, D. (2012). Design and Initial Performance of the Askaryan Radio Array Prototype EeV Neutrino Detector at the South Pole. Astropart. Phys., 35(7).

Besson, D. (2012). Radio-frequency probes of Antarctic ice birefringence at South Pole vs. East Antarctica; evidence for a changing ice fabric. The Cryosphere Discussions, 6(6), 4695-4731. DOI:10.5194/tcd-6-4695-2012

Besson, D. (2012). Status of RadioWave Neutrino Detection. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 404 , pp. 12038). DOI:10.1088/1742-6596/404/1/012038

Besson, D. (2012). Tethered balloons for radio detection of ultra high energy cosmic neutrinos in Antarctica. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment. DOI:10.1016/j.nima.2010.11.046

Kravchenko, I. & Besson, D. (2012). Updated Neutrino Flux Limits from the RICE Experiment at the South Pole. Phys. Rev. D, 85, 062004.

Besson, D. (2011). Constraints on the extremely-high energy cosmic neutrino flux with the IceCube 2008-2009 data. Physical Review D, 83(9). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.83.092003

Besson, D. Z. (2011). Measurement of acoustic attenuation in South Pole ice. Astroparticle Physics, 34(6), 382-393. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2010.10.003

Detrixhe, M. & Besson, D. (2011). Ultrarelativistic magnetic monopole search with the ANITA-II balloon-borne radio interferometer. Phys. Rev. D, 83, 023513.

Besson, D. (2010). First search for extremely high energy cosmogenic neutrinos with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Physical Review D, 82(7). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.82.072003

Besson, D. Keast, R. & Velasco, R. (2009). In situ and laboratory studies of radiofrequency propagation through ice and implications for siting a large-scale Antarctic neutrino detector. Astropart. Phys., 31(5).

Besson, D. (2009). New Limits on the Ultrahigh Energy Cosmic Neutrino Flux from the ANITA Experiment. Physical Review Letters, 103(5). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.051103

Besson, D. (2009). Search for point sources of high energy neutrinos with final data from AMANDA-II. Physical Review D, 79(6). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.79.062001

Besson, D. (2009). Simulation of a hybrid optical-radio-acoustic neutrino detector at the South Pole. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment , 604(1). DOI:10.1016/j.nima.2009.03.047

Besson, D. Z. (2009). The Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna ultra-high energy neutrino detector: Design, performance, and sensitivity for the 2006-2007 balloon flight. Astroparticle Physics, 32(1), 10-41. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2009.05.003

Besson, D. (2008). First Observation of the Decay D_s^+ to proton anti-neutron. Physical Review Letters, 100(18). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.100.181802

Besson, D. (2008). In situ radioglaciological measurements near Taylor Dome, Antarctica and implications for UHE neutrino astronomy. Astropart. Phys., 29, 130-157.

Besson, D. Z. (2008). Initial results from the ANITA 2006-2007 Balloon Flight. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (2nd ed., Vol. 136, pp. 22052). DOI:10.1088/1742-6596/136/2/022052

Besson, D. (2008). Radio Cherenkov detection of neutrinos. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 588(1), 138-145. DOI:10.1016/j.nima.2008.01.029

Besson, D. (2007). Comparison of Particle Production in Quark and Gluon Fragmentation at sqrt s ~ 10 GeV. Physical Review D, 76(1). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.76.012005

Besson, D. Z. (2007). Results from the ANITA Experiment. Modern Physics Letters A [Particles and Fields; Gravitation; Cosmology and Nuclear Physics], 22(30), 2237. DOI:10.1142/S0217732307024279

Besson, D. (2007). Search for Invisible Decays of the Upsilon(1S) Resonance. Physical Review D, 75(3). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.75.031104

Besson, D. (2007). Study of Di-Pion Transitions Among Upsilon(3S), Upsilon(2S), and Upsilon(1S) States. Physical Review D, 76(7). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.76.072001

Besson, D. (2006). Constraints on Cosmic Neutrino Fluxes from the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna Experiment. Physical Review Letters, 96(17). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.171101

Besson, D. (2006). Measurement of the Direct Photon Momentum Spectrum in Upsilon(1S), Upsilon(2S), and Upsilon(3S) Decays. Physical Review D, 74(1). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.74.012003

Besson, D. (2005). Photon transitions in Upsilon(2S) and Upsilon(3S) Decays. Physical Review Letters, 94(3). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.94.032001

Besson, D. (2005). South Polar in situ radio-frequency ice attenuation. Journal of Glaciology, 51(173), 231-238. DOI:10.3189/172756505781829467

Selected Presentations

Besson, D. . (01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014). Astrophysics in Antarctica. Lecture at FIT, New York City. F.I.T., New York City

Besson, D. . (08/31/2016). Bottomonia with the Belle-II experiment. International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP). Chicago

Besson, D. . (01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014). Radio wave detection of neutrinos in Antarctica. UHECR14 (Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays, 2014). Springdale, UT

Besson, D. . (02/13/2015). Radiofrequency neutrino and cosmic ray detection. University of Groningen, Netherlands.

Besson, D. . (03/14/2015). Radiofrequency Neutrino Detection in Antarctica. Weizmann Insitute, Israel. Weizmann Institute

Besson, D. . (09/20/2015). Silicon PhotoMultiplier R&D at MEPhI and KU. Science of the Future Conference. St. Petersburg

Besson, D. . (09/22/2016). Silicon PhotoMultiplier R&D at MEPhI and KU. Science of the Future Conference (II). Kazan

Besson, D. . (06/18/2015). Status and Results from the IceCube experiment. Photon15. Akademgorodok, Russia. Available Here

Besson, D. . (01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014). Status of the ANITA Experiment. COnference on SPAce Research (COSPAR). Moscow

Besson, D. . (04/21/2015). Ultra High Energy Cosmic Ray Detection. Novosibirsk State University and Budker Institute of Particle Physics. Novosibirsk, Russia

Besson, D. . (08/01/2015 - 08/31/2015). Ultra High Energy Radiowave Neutrino Detection . Lomonosov Conference. Moscow

Selected Grants

Miller, Timothy, (Principal), Besson, Dave, (Co-Investigator), PRIDE: Passive Radio Ice Depth Explorer, NASA, $30,000, . Federal. Status: Funded.

Besson, David, (Principal), ANITA HiCAL-2: Real-Time Calibration of the ANITA-4 Energy Scale, NASA, $184,082, Submitted 03/19/2015 (01/01/2016 - 12/31/2017). Federal. Status: Not Funded.

Besson, David, (Principal), ANITA-V, NASA, $425,000, Submitted 03/20/2016 (11/01/2016 - 10/31/2020). Federal. Status: Proposal Submitted.

Gorham, P., (Principal), Besson, David Z., Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA-3), Research Opportunities in Space Science, NASA, $325,000, (11/01/2014 - 10/31/2017). Federal. Status: Funded.

Besson, David Zeke, (Principal), Extreme Energy Particle Astrophysics with ANITA-V - University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. (Co-I), 13062, Nasa, $55,000, (04/01/2018 - 03/31/2020). Federal. Status: Funded.

Besson, David Z., (Principal), Fulbright Award, Submitted 01/01/2013 . Federal. Status: Funded.

Besson, David Z., (Principal), Collaborative Research: 2014-2017 Development of the Askaryan Radio Array Ultra-high Energy Neutrino Detector at the South Pole, National Science Foundation, $162,639, Submitted 06/16/2015 (10/01/2015 - 09/30/2018). Federal. Status: Funded.

Upcoming Events
REES Course List
Follow Us
Follow Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies on Facebook Follow CREES on Twitter Follow CREES on Youtube Follow CREES on LinkedIn