Augustana Professor Receives National Science Foundation Grant

Assistant Professor Dr. Nathan Grau has been awarded a three-year, $149,312 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant, entitled “Studying the Strong Nuclear Force at Augustana College," will support three students each summer from 2014-2016, including a month at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. 

The work will center on the MPC-EX detector upgrade to the PHENIX experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which will continue to investigate the nature of the strong nuclear force. Augustana College students will test the readout electronics for the detector upgrade and develop online software to diagnose problems with the detector in real time while it is taking data. At Brookhaven, Grau and the participating students will participate in the installation of the MPC-EX upgrade into the PHENIX detector and help bring the many hardware and software components online. 

The purpose of the detector upgrade is to provide more information about the low-energy gluons present in nuclei. These particles are the carriers of the nuclear force, the “glue” that keeps positively charged nuclei in atoms from flying apart.

Augustana is a member of the PHENIX experiment, one of only three primarily undergraduate institutions that are members of the collaboration.