Research Initiation Award: Subatomic Physics at Virginia Union University
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support to STEM faculty at HBCUs to pursue research at their home institution, at an NSF-funded Center, at a research intensive institution or at a national laboratory. The RIA projects are expected to help further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, to improve research and teaching at his or her home institution, and to involve undergraduate students in research experiences. With support from the National Science Foundation, Virginia Union University (VUU), a private, liberal-arts HBCU, will conduct research aimed at understanding the neutron structure function. This project will support the newly-established physics programs by expanding research opportunities available to students and enhancing the department's research infrastructure. The education and research experiences will contribute to VUU's efforts to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in physics and also help prepare students for graduate school and the Nation's STEM workforce.
The goal of the proposed study is to establish a collaborative experimental subatomic physics program that contributes to the fundamental understanding of the neutron. The PI will undertake slow controls work for a high-impact and highly anticipated measurement of the fundamental structure of the neutron. In addition, the PI will compare published structure function data from charged lepton and neutrino scattering on heavier targets to better model how nuclei may be observed differently from electromagnetic charged lepton and electroweak probes. Specifically, the PI will contribute to slow controls software development necessary for monitoring and archiving data associated with the gas deuteron gas target for the planned Barely Offshell Nucleon Structure (BONuS12) experiment. The PI will also conduct work to refine the structure function for Lead-82. Overall this program will create a VUU research presence in the international subatomic physics community as well as elevate the status of this HBCU and attract more students in physics. This project will be conducted in collaboration with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab).