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Old Dominion University will gain three new physics professorships and create an accelerator physics group under an agreement it reached in October with Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News.

These additional resources will enable ODU to offer undergraduate and graduate instruction in accelerator physics. Only a handful of institutions in the United States have comprehensive programs in this field.

The three new Jefferson Lab professorships will bring to six the number of these subsidized positions within the ODU physics department. According to the agreement, the three new professors will come from the ranks of scientists in the lab's Accelerator Division. The agreement also anticipates the creation of another joint ODU-Jefferson Lab physics professorship within the next three years.

ODU's 12-person nuclear physics research group is one of the strongest in the country largely because of the university's ties to Jefferson Lab.
Built by the U.S. Department of Energy at a cost of $600 million, the lab has a mile-long track that accelerates a continuous beam of electrons to near the speed of light. The high-speed electrons smash into atoms and large detectors record the results, enabling physicists to research the fundamental nature of matter.

Operation of the accelerator itself, which currently is in the first stages of an energy upgrade, involves a discrete set of science and engineering specialties. ODU's new program in accelerator physics will provide training in classical non-linear dynamics, electromagnetism, superconductivity and the interaction of particle and photon beams with matter. The studies can lead to master's or doctorate degrees, and the program also will get a course for advanced undergraduates beginning next fall.

"Old Dominion has enjoyed an excellent relationship with Jefferson Lab," said President Roseann Runte. "Together we have expanded knowledge of the universe through theory and experimentation. Americans can be proud of the cutting-edge research performed by this talented group."
Mohammad Karim, ODU vice president for research, noted that the university has banked on a strong partnership with Jefferson lab to build its physics program. "We are making that bond even stronger now," he added.

Two scientists from Jefferson Lab's Accelerator Division-Geoffrey Krafft and Jean Delayen-have been chosen so far to be new Jefferson Lab professors, said Gail Dodge, chair of the ODU physics department and a nuclear experimentalist herself. Another scientist will be selected soon for the third slot.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to extend our partnership with Jefferson Lab into accelerator physics," said Dodge. "Accelerators are increasingly used in hospitals to deliver particle beams for cancer therapy, in addition to their more traditional role in providing beams for nuclear and particle physics research."

Dodge noted that accelerator physics is only one part of an interdisciplinary field. "Ultimately, we hope to expand this program to include chemistry, math and engineering, and form a center for accelerator sciences."

Jefferson Lab professors, according to the agreement, can devote up to one-third of their work time to professorial duties at ODU. Krafft earned a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and Delayen earned a doctorate in low temperature physics from the California Institute of Technology. Both are Fellows of the American Physical Society.

The agreement is in the form of an amendment to the memorandum of understanding that exists between ODU and the contractor-Jefferson Science Associates-that manages Jefferson Lab. The amendment was signed in mid-October by Runte and Christoph Leemann, director of Jefferson Lab.

As much as $300 million is slated to be spent on the pending upgrade of the Jefferson Lab accelerator. The improvements will increase the available energy of the continuous beam of electrons from about 6 billion electron volts to 12 billion.

This article was posted on: October 26, 2006

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