Funding increased for nuclear physics research

Posted April 13, 2015

The Abilene Christian University Nuclear Physics Group has had funding from the U.S. Department of Energy renewed for two years at $210,000 per year. 

This is a $23,000 per year increase, which is significant considering the current financial constraints that basic research in the United States has been dealing with in recent years, said Dr. Donald Isenhower, physics professor and a member of the group.

Other group members are Dr. Rusty Towell, Dr. Michael Daugherity and Shon Watson, all from ACU's Department of Engineering and Physics.

The start of this grant period on May 15, 2015, will mark the 34th year of continuous funding from DOE for nuclear physics at ACU, which was begun under physics professor Dr. Michael Sadler soon after he came to ACU.

The group will spend this summer at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., working on the PHENIX experiment and at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory at Batavia, Ill. near Chicago, working on the SeaQuest experiment. Both of the projects have as their goal to understand the structure of the proton better and will involve at least eight ACU undergraduates working with the three faculty members, said Isenhower.

The ACU Nuclear Physics Group has a long tradition of collaborating on world-class research to understand the structure of the nucleon. The group actively engages many undergraduates in cutting-edge nuclear physics projects, with women now making up about half of the undergraduate researchers.

The research emphasis of the ACU group is the structure of a proton. While many of the properties of a proton have been well understood for decades, the internal structure of the proton (i.e. spin and anti-quark structure) is not yet known, said Isenhower. The ACU researchers have made significant contributions in areas including simulations, detector development and data collection, he said.

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