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A leading research agency in France has selected Old Dominion University physicist Charles Hyde-Wright for a program that arranges collaborations between French researchers and elite foreign scientists.

Under the appointment, Hyde-Wright will take a primary role in research projects at the Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire (LPC Particle Physics Laboratory) in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand. LPC is affiliated with l'Universite Blaise-Pascal, which already has a cooperative agreement with ODU.

The collaboration is sponsored by the "Chaire d'Excellence" program of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche. Only five awards were made in the past year, covering all disciplines of science at all French research institutes. The award includes a research grant worth a little more than $1 million over the next four years and a faculty appointment at Blaise-Pascal.

Newspaper and television reports in Clermont-Ferrand touted the award as a significant honor for Hyde-Wright and the LPC when the Virginia scientist was at the LPC in December to launch the collaboration. The reports noted Hyde-Wright's contributions to nuclear physics as an experimentalist at accelerator facilities.

Hyde-Wright is known internationally for his probes of the atomic nuclei via a process called virtual compton scattering. He has a longstanding research relationship with French physicists with whom he has worked in France and at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. At least four French institutes, including the LPC, have expressed interest in contributing to the $300 million, energy doubling upgrade of the Jefferson Lab accelerator and associated experimental equipment.

"This award is a tribute to Professor Hyde-Wright's scientific leadership, especially in the emerging field of deeply virtual compton scattering," said Gail Dodge, chair of the ODU physics department. "It also highlights the importance of the experimental program at Jefferson Lab to the international scientific community."
The award will fund work by the LPC and Hyde-Wright toward the development of a new detector for the Jefferson Lab. The detector and upgrade will create a new method for imaging the quark waves inside the proton, as well as inside other light nuclei.

During the term of the award, Hyde-Wright will divide his time between duties at the LPC and ODU.

The American Physical Society cited Hyde-Wright's development of virtual compton scattering as a probe of the structure of the proton when it announced his election last year as an APS Fellow. Experiments he has coordinated at the Jefferson Lab atom smasher involve high-energy photon-on-proton collisions that aim to create the first-ever spatial images of the quark waves inside the atomic nucleus.

This article was posted on: January 23, 2007

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