DEKALB, Ill. - The National Science Foundation has awarded a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Program…
DeKalb, Ill. — Xueying Lu, an NIU assistant professor of physics, was one of 83 scientists selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive funding through its Early Career Research Program.
The program, now in its 12th year, supports exceptional scientists during the crucial years when many do their most formative work in the agency’s priority research areas. Lu will receive $750,000 for five years to advance her research. These awards are part of DOE’s longstanding efforts to support critical research at the nation’s universities and National Labs, grow a skilled STEM workforce, and cement America as a global leader in science and innovation.
“Maintaining our nation’s brain trust of world-class scientists and researchers is one of DOE’s top priorities—and that means we need to give them the resources they need to succeed early on in their careers,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These awardees show exceptional potential to help us tackle America’s toughest challenges and secure our economic competitiveness for decades to come.”
Lu, who was selected for funding for her work by the DOE Office of High Energy Physics, has a joint faculty appointment with NIU and Argonne National Laboratory. The DOE award will support her work on innovative wakefield acceleration technologies at the Argonne Wakefield Accelerator.
Increasing the accelerating gradient (energy gain per unit length for the particle beam) is a research topic of critical importance, as high-gradient structures can reduce the size and cost of particle accelerators. Advanced accelerator concepts hold the promise of revolutionary future particle colliders with dramatically higher gradients than what conventional accelerator technologies allow.
“Structure wakefield acceleration is a promising candidate, where the high-gradient accelerating field is excited by an electron beam passing through an optimized structure in vacuum,” Lu said.
During the program, she will explore innovative high-frequency structures for high-gradient wakefield acceleration. The research could pave the way for a future collider based on these innovative concepts, and lead to new applications in high power microwave sources and in compact light sources for scientific and industrial applications.
An important component of Lu’s project is inspiring and training the next generation of accelerator physicists. Lu will be guiding NIU graduate students to work collaboratively with experts at Argonne.
“This project will benefit from a very strong collaboration between Argonne and NIU, and in turn contribute to the scientific goals of Argonne,” she said.
The Early Career Research Program is funded by DOE’s Office of Science, which has awarded millions in funding over the past month to grow a skilled, diverse STEM workforce—including $11.7 million for undergraduate and community college STEM internships and faculty research opportunities, and $2.4 million for graduate student research opportunities.
Under the DOE Early Career Research Program, university-based researchers will receive $150,000 per year for five years. To be eligible for Early Career Research Program awards, a researcher must be an untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professor at a U.S. academic institution, or a full-time employee at a DOE National Lab, who received a Ph.D. within the past 10 years. Awardees were selected based on peer review by outside scientific experts.
Media Contact: Paula Meyer
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