NIU today | NIU Ph.D. student receives prestigious DOE research award


AJ Dick

AJ Dick, a NIU student pursuing his doctorate in physics, won a prestigious graduate student research award from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE recently announced that Dick is among 78 students from across the country to be selected for its Graduate Student Science Research Office (SCGSR) program.

The research projects proposed by the new fellows demonstrate strong alignment with the priority mission areas of the DOE Science Office. Selection was based on merit peer review by external scientific experts.

Through world-class training and access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources at DOE’s national laboratories, the SCGSR program prepares graduate students for jobs critical to the DOE’s mission and ensures the nation’s position at the forefront of discovery and innovation.

“The DOE has long been where the nation turns to scientific solutions to complex challenges, and now more than ever, we must invest in a diverse and talented pipeline of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs capable of continuing this legacy of excellence, ”Jennifer Secretary of Energy Says Mr. Granholm. “I am delighted that these exceptional students are helping us conduct critical research in our labs, and I look forward to seeing what their future holds.”

Dick, who will conduct his research in the field of accelerator and beam physics at National Fermilab Accelerator in Batavia, becomes the sixth fellow of the NIU program in the last five years. Through the program, he is eligible to receive travel expenses and a monthly stipend of up to $ 3,000 for general living expenses during his one-year fellowship period, which begins June 14.

“I am very happy to be able to work at Fermilab full time,” said Dick. “The award will give me hands-on experience while working on my PhD.”

The 25-year-old Indianapolis native said he chose to do his graduate studies in physics at NIU because of the university’s proximity to two DOE national labs, Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory. NIU physicists, engineers and students collaborate regularly with laboratories, and the university’s physics department has a very program in physics of accelerators and particle beams.

At Fermilab, Dick will work on the Integrable Optics Test Accelerator (IOTA), a storage ring approximately 40 meters in circumference designed to test advanced concepts in accelerator physics. Storage rings are types of accelerators that can keep particle beams circulating for many hours. Dick will conduct research with Jonathan Jarvis, a Companion of the peoples and associate researcher at Fermilab, on a new beam manipulation method known as “optical stochastic cooling”.

“The biggest accelerators that scientists use to collide with particles have bundles of beams circulating at the same time,” says Dick. “The beams become less intense and expand as they move – you might think of them as the cone of light from a flashlight, which darkens as it gets bigger. Particle colliders work best if you compress the beams, which increases the intensity. We are working to make the particle beams as small and bright as possible. “

Dick’s work was previously supported by the National Science Foundation’s Center of light beams based at Cornell University.

Phillipe piot

“I am delighted that AJ is receiving one of the SCGSR awards,” said Philippe Piot, physics professor at NIU, adviser to Dick. “He is a deserving student with a wide range of skills, ranging from working on practical projects to performing numerical and theoretical surveys using advanced simulation tools on large-scale computational clusters. The SCGSR program will allow AJ to access a unique facility and interact with experts in the field of accelerator science.

Dick said he was particularly interested in nonlinear dynamics, or in the study of systems that may appear chaotic, unpredictable, or counterintuitive but behave in ways that are not random. These systems are important in almost every branch of science, from meteorology to beam physics.

“It’s kind of like a puzzle I’m working on, as opposed to more classic physics,” Dick said. He hopes to obtain his NIU doctorate. in the spring of 2023.


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