Anthony Kuchera – NSF Grant
The Office of Grants and Contracts congratulates Assistant Professor of Physics, Anthony Kuchera on a National Science Foundation grant (2011398).
The $176,680 Collaborative Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) award titled “Study of Exotic Nuclear and Neutron Detector Response,” is a 3-year collaboration between Professor Kuchera and Professor Warren Rogers of Indiana Wesleyan University, who received a similar award. Both professors are members of the Modular Neutron Array (MoNA) Collaboration which consists of faculty from primarily undergraduate institutions and Michigan State University.
The grant provides funding for 6 Davidson research students who will work alongside the collaborative team consisting of professors, graduate students, and postdocs. The students will be involved at every step of the research project, including weekly video conferences, participation in experiments, and attending professional conferences. There are typically limited opportunities for students to learn nuclear science in the classroom – particularly for undergraduate students in a small liberal arts setting – and this opportunity for training in research at state-of-the-art national facilities has the potential for producing the next generation of nuclear scientists who are also widely educated in the broader context of the humanities and social sciences.
The collaborative team will perform experiments using the Modular Neutron Array at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) in Michigan – the largest radioactive beam facility in the United States – as well as at Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The focus of the project is to study the properties of atomic nuclei that have many more neutrons than protons.
“We use beams of radioactive particles to undergo nuclear reactions and produce short-lived nuclei that decay by giving off their excess neutrons. We use MoNA to detect these neutrons while simultaneously detecting the remaining nucleus. Our measurements help guide and verify modern models of the nucleus. Additionally, our work at LANSCE focuses on understanding the details of how our neutron detectors work by using a beam of neutrons to interact with them. We measure properties such as the neutrons’ scattering pattern and energy which we will use to improve simulations of neutron interactions.”
Professor Kuchera is the only pre-tenure (and youngest) faculty member of the Modular Neutron Array (MoNA) collaboration at NSCL and serves as Executive Director. We congratulate him on his accomplishments, and this competitive NSF grant.