Dec. 21, 2021
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nEXO Collaborators win "Research Traineeships to Broaden and Diversify Nuclear Physics" DOE grant award

nEXO collaboration

nEXO collaborators Emilie Hein and Kolo Wamba, who are both on the faculty at Skyline College, and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) physicist Mickey Chiu have received grant awards under the DOE's new "Research Traineeships to Broaden and Diversify Nuclear Physics" initiative.

The Skyline College group has used the awarded funds to establish a 2-year program which will employ a total of 8 undergraduate student trainees to develop small-scale software and hardware projects in support of the ongoing nEXO detector research and development activities at SLAC and Stanford. This year's cohort of Skyline student trainees are Shannon Hoang, Jiries Kaileh, Madeleine Mcswain, and Brendan Murtagh. Emilie and Kolo have partnered with Peter Rowson's group at SLAC and Giorgio Gratta's group at Stanford to supervise Shannon, Jiries, Madeleine, and Brendan as they have made contributions to the SLAC XPM work (Madeleine and Brendan), the SLAC Rn still development (Shannon), and triggering and DAQ at Stanford (Jiries). Shannon, Jiries, Madeleine, and Brendan will be completing their associate degrees in physics in the Spring of 2022, at which point the Skyline College traineeship program will introduce a fresh cohort of 4 students in 2022–2023. 

An important goal of the Skyline program is to increase the number of students from underrepresented populations who choose to pursue graduate studies in nuclear physics. Skyline College is a federally recognized Minority Serving Institution, and the Skyline trainees are currently the only community college students who are a part of nEXO. This unique approach to diversifying the field was presented at this year’s Low Energy Community Meeting.

At BNL, Dr. Mickey Chiu has been mentoring undergraduate Tiana Young on a project simulating the nEXO Photon Readout Electronics that will help to optimize parameters in the design. Tiana is a junior at Florida A&M University, which is the third largest Historically Black College and University in the US. The new BNL traineeship program (BNL PREP-NP) is a partnership leveraging the resources at BNL to provide opportunities in nuclear physics research for undergraduates pursuing a career in nuclear physics, particularly at minority serving institutions where there have been no previous opportunities.  The funding has exposed Tiana to the complex technology in the nEXO readout system and to start mastering the programming skills which are essential for the US’s future workforce. As nEXO moves forward with its groundbreaking experiment, the PREP-NP program is looking forward to next summer, when the 2nd year of the program commences, and new students can be exposed to nEXO physics as well as the wide variety of other nuclear physics research being done at BNL.