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Graduate Students Win Department of Energy Awards

Two UT Physics graduate students have won competitive awards from the U.S. Department of Energy to work on neutrino research and neutron scattering at two different national laboratories.

Gray Yarbrough, who works with Assistant Professor Sowjanya Gollapinni, won a Fermilab Neutrino Physics Center (NPC) fellowship for Summer 2017. He’ll work at Fermilab (in Batavia, Illinois) on the MicroBooNE experiment, which sends accelerator-driven neutrinos into a detector filled with liquid argon. When the neutrinos collide with argon atoms, the resulting fragments of subatomic particles produce a sort of tracking blueprint scientists can follow to understand more about the neutrinos themselves. Scientists study neutrinos to understand the biggest puzzles in the universe such as the matter anti-matter asymmetry.”

Yarbrough will work to improve the Booster Neutrino Beam (BNB) flux prediction and systematics for the experiment. He explained that his project is a two-part approach. His first task is to analyze the beam target scan data to accurately measure the delivery of protons on target. (In the process he’ll work to optimize the beam optics to minimize loss of protons on target.) His second task involves incorporating and validating data from the HARP (Hadron Production) experiment at CERN into the MicroBooNE flux prediction. Yarbrough is the first UT student to win this highly competitive fellowship through the NPC Scholar Program, which brings experimentalists and theorists from the international neutrino community to Fermilab.

Ryan Rawl, who works with Assistant Professor Haidong Zhou, has also won a DOE graduate student award, this one through the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program. He will work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on neutron scattering research and instrumentation. The SCGSR program provides supplemental awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to pursue part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory in areas that address scientific challenges central to the Office of Science mission.

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