Physics Graduate Student Casey Morean is among 62 graduate students nationwide recently selected for the US Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program. This award will help support his research at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF), under the supervision of Associate Physics Professor Nadia Fomin. The facility, known informally as JLab, is located in Newport News, Virginia.
JLab is home to the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF), a powerful and continuous electron beam with energy up to 12 billion electron volts supporting experiments designed to explain the fundamentals of matter. Morean explained that he will be "preparing for and running an experiment to measure high-momentum nucleons that come from short-range interactions. This is a high-impact highly rated experiment in Hall C of Jefferson Lab."
Hall C is designated for experiments that study electron scattering on nuclei (including protons, the smallest nuclei) at high luminosity with good momentum resolution. The setup includes both targets and detectors, including the Super High Momentum Spectrometer (SHMS), which enables measurements of particles scattered at up to full beam momentum.
To prep for the experiment where he’ll be working, Morean explained that he will work on creating an online analysis package, a procedure for calibrating detectors in the SHMS, as well as helping refurbish some detector elements. As the experiment takes data over the course of multiple months, he will be responsible for data quality checks and initial physics results extraction.
With the widespread closings related to COVID-19, Morean has learned to adapt. He is currently working from home in Richmond, Virginia, and is able to access JLab computers remotely. He is taking advantage of previously taken data and a large network of computer resources to continue his progress, and attends regular Zoom meetings with his fellow research group members. Once JLab opens for essential workers and users, he can begin working on experiment installation and move forward with his scientific goals with this support from DOE.
The SCGSR program provides funds for graduate students in science and engineering as they pursue their doctoral research at a host Department of Energy laboratory working with a DOE scientist. The department’s press release includes a statement by US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette on the importance of this support.
"These graduate student awards prepare young scientists for STEM careers critically important to the DOE mission and the advancement of American science and technology,” he said. “We are proud of the accomplishments these outstanding awardees have already made and look forward to following their achievements in the years to come. They represent the future leadership and innovation that will allow American science and engineering to excel in the 21st century."
Morean is beginning his fourth year in the physics graduate program and is no stranger to physics research—or teaching, for that matter. A native of Saint Marys, Pennsylvania, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Lock Haven University. During his undergraduate studies, he was recognized at the 2016 national meeting of the American Physical Society for his outstanding presentation of undergraduate research. Last spring he won the UT Physics Department Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for his laudable teaching efforts in the undergraduate physics labs.
Morean was one of two students from UT to be selected in the second SCGSR selection cycle of 2019. The other is Igor Gussev, a student in the department of nuclear engineering. UT’s Office of Research and Engagement has more information on both awards. More information on SCGSR is available here: https://science.osti.gov/wdts/scgsr