Undergrads collaborate in top-cited paper

Posted August 26, 2011

Ten ACU undergraduate physics students are listed as collaborators on a paper which so drastically changed assumptions in the field of nuclear physics that it has been cited in more than 1,200 places since its publication.

"There are 10 undergraduates from ACU on this paper, which is very unusual," says Dr. Donald Isenhower, professor in ACU's Department of Physics.

The paper details an experiment which upended accepted wisdom about the mechanism of energy loss in plasma. It is one of the iconic papers to come out of the PHENIX project at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

This isn't a one-time event for ACU undergrads in the physics department, either. In addition to this impressive paper, six of the 23 published papers on two past experiments at Fermilab, a proton-antiproton collider in Batavia, Ill., with more than 100 citations, list ACU undergraduates as collaborators.

"Those were much smaller experiments and targeted a smaller community than the paper about the quark gluon plasma from PHENIX, so these are very impressive numbers," says Isenhower.

This summer, 20 more undergraduate students are working on research projects, hoping to get their own work published. Students work at Fermilab, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and in ACU's physics lab in Abilene.

Learn more about unique research opportunities for ACU undergraduate students on the ACU website.