Physics Department Research 2009

Each faculty member in the ACU physics department is an active research physicist.  The research groups and areas are described below.

The Nuclear Physics Research Group

Current Members:

  • Dr. Michael Daugherity, assistant professor
  • Dr. Donald Isenhower, professor
  • Dr. Hai Qu, postdoctoral research scientist
  • Dr. Rusty Towell, professor
  • Mr. Shon Watson, department technician and research scientist

External support: 

  • U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Physics Research Grant. 
    o Renewed in March 2009 for another 3-year cycle. 
    o Funding for next year is:  $321,000
  • U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Energy (Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI)) Grant. 
    o Awarded in October 2007 for three years.
    o Funding is $150,000 per year.
  • National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Grant. 
    o Awarded in 2005 for a five-year program. 
    o Total funding is $163,710.
  • Previous grants have included: NATO fellowships, Sabbatical support from Brookhaven National Laboratory, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, and others sources.
  • Total funding for the 2009-2010 year is over half a million dollars.

Current projects:

1. The PHENIX (Pioneering High Energy Nuclear Interaction eXperiment) experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) on Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL).
     a. Primary goals of the PHENIX experiment include understanding the internal structure of the proton and investigating the nature of quarks and gluons.
     b. Involved 12 different ACU students in the past 3 years.
     c. This summer 5 students will work at BNL with Dr. Towell.
     d. One student will work on PHENIX data analysis with Dr. Daugherity at ACU.

2. The E906 experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL).
     a. The primary goal of E906 is to study the anti-quark content of the proton.
     b. Eight different ACU students have worked on this experiment over the past 3 years.
     c. This summer 5 students will work at FNAL with Dr. Isenhower.

3. The NIFFTE (Neutron Induced Fission Fragment Tracking Experiment) experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
     a. The primary goal of the NIFFTE collaboration is to carefully study neutron induced fission.  These measurements are vital to the design of the next generation of nuclear power plants.
     b. This experiment will help provide a clean, abundant, and safe energy source for our future.
     c. Six different ACU students have worked on this experiment during the past year.
     d. This summer three students will work at LANL.
     e. Dr. Qu and Mr. Watson will also work on this project at ACU. 

The Solid State Research Group

Faculty member:  Dr. Timothy Head, assistant professor

External support:  Equipment totaling over $120,000 has been given to this group from the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign.

Current projects: 
1. Measurement of acoustic properties of CaWO4 using the phonon-imaging technique. This project is being done in collaboration with Madeleine Msall of Bowdoin College and Jim Wolfe of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 
     a. The goal of this research is to provide a more precise set of elastic constants for CaWO4 to researchers in the CRESST collaboration.  These values will be used to better characterize  their detectors as they search for the dark matter that holds our galaxy together
     b. Three students have been involved in this work at different times beginning in summer of 2008.
2. Phonon-imaging study of superconducting Tin.
     a. The primary goal of this project is to investigate the cause of long   thermalization times observed in superconducting Tin using the phonon-imaging technique.  This research has application in the fast detection of gamma rays in a new type of gamma ray spectrometer that uses superconducting Tin to stop the gamma rays.
     b. One student is set to begin work on this project in summer 2009.

Quantum Gravity Research

Faculty member:  Dr. Joshua Willis, assistant professor

External support:  Dr. Willis has been supported by funds from a National Science Foundation grant.

Current project: Dr. Willis studies how the force that holds the universe together on the largest scales (gravity) can be understood with the same principles that describe physical systems at the smallest scales (quantum theory).  Some of this work is theoretical modeling, and much is computational.  There is research done on both how to get computers to more efficiently make the calculations we need, as well as using large computer calculations to extract predictions from theories.

Relationship between Philosophy, Science, and Religion

Faculty member:  Dr. Paul Morris, Professor

Research support:  Dr. Morris will be on sabbatical next school year.

Current project: The Historical Impact of Mathematics on Philosophical Thought in the West. 

Partial Wave Analysis of the Pion-Nucleon System

Current faculty member:  Dr. Michael Sadler, Professor

Research support:  Dr. Sadler is on sabbatical this school year.

Current project: Organizer of the 5th International Pion-Nucleon Partial Wave Analysis Workshop in Trento, Italy.