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DE-SC0022023: NuSTEAM: Nuclear Science in Texas to Enhance and Advance Minorities

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: University of Houston, Houston, TX
  • DUNS: 036837920
  • Most Recent Award Date: 09/28/2023
  • Number of Support Periods: 3
  • PM: Bryson, Tasia
  • Current Budget Period: 09/01/2023 - 08/31/2024
  • Current Project Period: 09/01/2023 - 08/31/2026
  • PI: Ratti, Claudia
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

NuSTEAM: Nuclear Science in Texas to Enhance and Advance Minorities

University of Houston, PI: Claudia Ratti

This proposal aims at continuing a successful Texas-based program under the guidelines of the NP-RENEW FOA (Nuclear Physics – Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce). The program is based on recruiting a diverse set of undergraduate students to be trained and do research on state-of-the-art Nuclear Physics topics, retaining some of them as graduate students, and preparing others for the nuclear workforce. Four of the largest minority-serving institutions in the United States have participated in the first phase of this collaborative program, the Nuclear Science in Texas to Enhance and Advance Minorities (NuSTEAM), funded from 2021 to 2023. The initial team consisted of the University of Houston (UH), University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), University of Texas - El Paso (UTEP) and Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), with the University of Houston serving at the lead institution. For this renewal proposal, we are joined by Lamar University, starting with the summer traineeship in 2024. UH, UTRGV and UTEP are certified Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI). UTRGV and UTEP are largest and 2nd largest HSI in the state, and in the Top 10 in the country. PVAMU is the largest historically black college (HBCU) in Texas. UH is the 2nd most diverse university in the nation. Lamar is a member of TEAM UP and is presently officially labeled as a BSI and ‘emerging HSI’.

The University of Houston has an extensive Experimental and Theoretical Nuclear and High Energy Physics Research Program for graduate and undergraduate students and will serve as a host for the summer program of the year-long traineeship. UTRGV and UTEP have a graduate program, but not in Experimental Nuclear/High Energy Physics. Prairie View A&M and Lamar University only have undergraduate programs. All five institutions will provide minority undergraduate students to the program. After completing a six-week summer course at UH, Brookhaven National Laboratory will host the students for a two-week hands-on experience in the laboratory environment. Upon returning to their home institutions, the students will continue to be supported for the Fall and Spring semesters for 15 hrs/week, while working on a research topic chosen through the traineeship program.

The curriculum of the summer course focuses on developing a Nuclear Physics based skill set, which will be applicable to future professions in academia and industry within the Nuclear Physics field. Areas that will be covered in the course are low- and high-energy Nuclear Physics research, Nuclear radiation applications in Space Science and Medical Physics, Instrumentation and Detectors, Electronics, Software Development, Analysis tools, Machine Learning, and finally Networking, Presentation Skills and Career Planning. Upon completion of the UH and BNL experiences, the student, in coordination with the local supervisor and the program coordinator at UH, will receive a research project to be addressed and completed over the next two semesters at their home institutions. Possible topics will include heavy ion data analysis, phenomenological modeling of data from RHIC and LHC, radiation physics studies, machine learning applications in nuclear physics, detector and electronics development, simulation, and testing for new instruments. Retained graduate students will work on more complex problems within the same topics.

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