The ACU Nuclear Physics Group has been renewed for funding from the United States Department of Energy 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 professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics in a press release last week.
Other members of the group include Dr. Rusty Towell, professor and chair of the department, Dr. Michael Daugherity, assistant professor, and Shon Watson, assistant in computers and technology.
“This is great for us, especially when you look at where we are in funding basic research as a nation,” Towell said. “It’s a pretty tight and competitive environment to get grants from the Department of Energy or any federal agency.”
This will be the 34th consecutive year the Nuclear Physics Group has received funding from the Department of Energy.
“We’re involved as a research group in major projects this summer,” Towell said. “We will be taking groups of students on two of those projects.”
The increase in funding for the group will be used in several ways, both for the research and the group itself.
“It goes toward stipends for the students so we can pay them to come work for us,” Towell said. “It also pays for the housing and travel there and for us to go to a conference to present the results of our findings.”
The group will participate with as many as 500 other researchers from around the world on two projects – the PHENIX Detector experiment, a detector designed to investigate high-energy collisions of ions and protons, at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York, and the SeaQuest experiment, an experiment that measures quarks and antiquark structures, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.
“These are both nuclear physics experiments that involve accelerators that accelerate particles to near the speed of light and collide them with other particles,” Towell said. “We study what’s coming out, and when we do that, we get a better understanding of the basic building blocks of matter.”
The research trip offers important experience for faculty and students who attend.
“I think this is the unique thing about ACU’s physics department,” Towell said. “We are part of these exciting international world-class research projects, and we are able to take our undergraduate students with us. It really makes the experience for us and our students here unique and premiere.”