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Christopher Wrede, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics

Curriculum Vitae

Chris is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University with a joint appointment at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. His primary research interest is in the field of experimental nuclear astrophysics and he has taught courses in Astronomy, Electronics, and Nuclear Astrophysics. Prior to joining MSU in 2011, Chris received a Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University in 2008 and spent three years as a Research Associate based at the University of Washington’s Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics.

Research Associates:

Moshe Friedman, Ph.D., Research Associate

Moshe finished his Ph.D. research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2016: a measurement of the proton elastic form factor ratio at low momentum transfer (Q2 = 0.02-0.08 GeV2) at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLAB), Newport News, VA. Moshe was also involved in the modeling and commissioning of a quasi-stellar neutron source for s-process measurements at SARAF (Israel). He published a stand-alone C++ code, SimLiT, for calculating the resulting neutron spectrum from the 7Li(p,n)7Be reaction, an important neutron source for s-process measurements and medical purposes (BNCT). He was also involved in the modeling of a detector for prompt fission neutron emission spectrum of 235U(n,f), which is relevant for reactor physics. Moshe has played a lead role in the recent assembly and commissioning of, and first experiments with the Gas Amplifier Detector with Germanium Tagging (GADGET), which is used to study the rp-process in novae and x-ray bursts and search for exotic decay modes.

Lijie Sun, Ph.D., Visiting Research Associate

Curriculum Vitae

Lijie received his Ph.D. at China Institute of Atomic Energy in July 2017. Then he joined Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher. His research in China focused on the experimental study of beta decay of nuclei close to the proton-drip line and their astrophysical implications. In China, he participated in several beta-decay spectroscopy studies by implanting nuclei into a silicon detector array surrounded by germanium detectors and published the results for 36,37Ca [ Chin. Phys. Lett. 32, 012301 (2015) ], 23Al, 24Si [ Nucl. Instrum. Methods Phys. Res. A 804, 1 (2015) ], and 20Mg [ Phys. Rev. C 95, 014314 (2017) ] as the first author. He was recently selected in the International Postdoctoral Exchange Fellowship Program (Talent-Dispatch Program) launched by the China Postdoctoral Council. In October 2018 he joined NSCL, and is planning to propose, carry out, and analyze an experiment on the beta-delayed neutron decays of sodium isotopes with a Doppler Broadening technique. He has also been working on adapting and expanding upon the Particle-X-ray Coincidence Technique for the measurement of resonances of interest to Type I X-ray bursts on accreting neutron stars.

Graduate Students:

Brent Glassman, B.S., 6th year Ph.D. candidate in Physics at MSU

Brent received his B.S. in Physics at James Madison University in 2013. His undergraduate research dealt with the analysis of one-proton-removal reactions of proton-rich psd-shell nuclei for reactions relevant to novae. At NSCL, he planned and ran a 20Mg beta decay experiment to study the CNO-cycle breakout reactions occurring on accreting compact stars and isospin-symmetry breaking related to tests of the Standard Model of particle physics. The astrophysics results have been disseminated in three recent contributions: [Phys. Lett. B 778, 397 (2018)], [Phys. Rev. C 96, 032801(R) (2017)], and [arXiv:1901.01966v1 (2019)], the last of which involved a detailed analysis of the Doppler shifts of gamma-rays emitted following beta delayed proton emission. Regarding isospin symmetry breaking, he has published a paper demonstrating the revalidation of the isobaric multiplet mass equation in the A=20 quintet [Phys. Rev. C, 92, 042501(R) (2015)].

Tamas Budner, B.S., 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in Physics at MSU

In 2016, Tamas graduated from Ursinus College summa cum laude, earning his B.S. with Honors in Physics and minors in computer science and mathematics. His senior thesis was a continuation of his computational atomic physics research related to the field ionization of Rydberg atoms [Phys. Rev. A 92, 043412 (2015)] and involved developing a genetic algorithm for selective state ionization. At Michigan State, he has been supported by the NSCL Graduate Fellowship and the College of Natural Science Recruiting Fellowship. He recently completed an experiment at NSCL to experimentally constrain the thermonuclear rate of the 30P(p, γ)31S reaction by measuring the branching ratios of low energy proton emissions following the decay of 31Cl using GADGET.

Jason Surbrook, B.S., 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in Physics at MSU

Jason earned a B.S. degree in Physics from the University of North Carolina in 2016. As an undergraduate, he worked on mechanical drawings for a new accelerator of high current, pulsed proton beams for nuclear astrophysics and measured background neutron activation of germanium in consideration of a precision neutrino measurement at SNS. At NSCL, he has worked for about a year on precision mass measurements with the LEBIT Penning Trap. Currently, he is using GADGET to search for exotic decay modes of 11Be. He is also the spokesperson for an NSCL experiment to investigate isospin symmetry breaking related to tests of the standard model of particle physics by measuring the mass of 28S and its superallowed beta decay.

Tyler Wheeler, B.S., 1st year Ph.D. candidate in Physics at MSU

Tyler earned his B.S. in Physics from Grand Valley State University in 2018. As an undergraduate, he investigated molecular networks and metal-organic frameworks using positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy. His work is published in the journal Macromolecules under the title, “Tunability of Free Volume and Viscoelastic Damping of Thiol-ene Networks Deep in the Glassy State”. At NSCL, he is investigating the influence of thermonuclear reaction rates on X-ray Burst light curves. His goal is to determine the thermonuclear rate of the 15O(α, γ)19Ne reaction by measuring the beta delayed charged particle emissions in the decay of 20Mg. The measurements will require an upgrade of GADGET's gas amplifier detector to time-projection chamber operation.

Undergraduate Students:

Molly Janasik, Junior in Physics at MSU

Molly is a Director's Research Scholar, who transfered her major to physics from graphic design and began working with the group at the beginning of 2017. She has worked on characterizing and optimizing the performance of GADGET's gas-amplifier detector, which is now operational. She is now analyzing gamma-ray data taken with the Segmented Germanium Array.

Jordan Stomps, Senior in Physics at MSU

Jordan joined the group in Fall of 2017 as a Professorial Assistant. He has working on data acquisition and display for GADGET that is now operational. He is now analyzing gamma-ray data taken with the Segmented Germanium Array. Jordan is former president of MSU's Society of Physics Students.

Alumni (former Graduate Students and Research Associates):

Cathleen Fry, B.S., Ph.D. (MSU, 2019)

Curriculum Vitae

Cathleen received her B.S. in Physics at Tennessee Technological University in 2013. She was involved in a project cataloguing the discovery of the isotopes at Michigan State as an REU student in 2011. In 2012, she was involved in an REU project at Notre Dame studying the feasibility of using deuterons as a probe to study the Isoscalar Giant Monopole Resonance. At Michigan State, she was supported by the NSCL and University Distinguished Fellowships. She planned, executed, an analyzed an experiment to discover and measure 35Ar excited states at Maier-Leibnitz Laboratory in Munich to constrain the 34Cl(p, γ)35Ar reaction rate, which is relevant for nova nucleosynthesis. She published a paper on the results of this work, reporting the discovery of 17 new resonances [Phys. Rev. C 91, 015803 (2015)]. Cathleen also ran an experiment to measure the lifetimes of 30P(p, γ)31S resonances at Canada's national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics, TRIUMF, which will complement our group's work on 31Cl beta decay. Cathleen is also currently serving as a member-at-large on the APS Forum of Graduate Student Affairs executive board. She is now a Research Associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

David Perez-Loureiro, Ph.D., Research Associate (2013-2016)

Curriculum Vitae

David received his Ph.D. from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) in 2010. His dissertation dealt with the production of medium-mass neutron-rich nuclei using two different mechanisms: the fission of 238U and the projectile fragmentation of fission residues. In this research, the fragmentation of 132Sn was investigated for the first time. After receiving his degree he joined GANIL (France). There, he worked on the development of a next generation active target and time projection chamber (ACTAR TPC). He was mainly involved in the development of a Geant4-ROOT based simulation package to provide reliable simulations of various physics cases. In our group, he worked on the design and development of GADGET in order to investigate resonances of particular interest in explosive stellar nucleosynthesis processes. He performed detailed Geant4 simulations of the gas amplifier detector that helped to define its final geometry. David also performed a comprehensive analysis of 26P decay leading to evidence for a proton halo in 26P [Phys. Rev. C 93, 064320 (2016)] and confirming the recent discovery of an isomeric state in 26P [Phys. Rev. C 96, 014306 (2017)]. He is now an Applied Physicist at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.

Michael Bennett, B.S., Ph.D (MSU, 2016)

Mike completed a B.S. cum laude in Physics, with minors in Music and Mathematics, in 2009 at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. While at Westmont he performed research with the 24” Keck Telescope as well as with the Cosmic Muon Detection Array. After graduating he worked at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History as Astronomy Programs Assistant before coming to NSCL in 2011. At MSU, Mike co-led an experiment to constrain the 25Al(p, γ)26Si reaction rate, which influences the amount of 26Al produced in classical novae, and he published paper on that work [Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 232503 (2013)]. Next, he completed a thesis on the beta decay of 31Cl and the 30P(p, γ)31S reaction rate, which strongly influences nucleosynthesis in classical novae. The first two results from the latter work were recently published [Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 102502 (2016) and Phys. Rev. C, 93, 064310 (2016)]. Mike also served two terms as the Graduate Outreach Representative for the NSCL and one term as the elected President of the Physics Graduate Organization. He defended his Ph.D thesis on July 25th, 2016 and was subsequently presented with the Sherwood K. Haynes Award for the outstanding graduate student in Physics or Astrophysics at MSU (2017). He is now the Director of Educational Outreach and Research at JILA and the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Colorado at Boulder, working with Nobel Prize winner Eric Cornell and Noah Finkelstein.

Sarah Schwartz, B.S., M.S. (MSU, 2016)

Sarah received a B.S. in Mathematics with a Minor in Physics from the University of Southern Indiana in 2014. She was a participant in Michigan State University’s REU program in 2013. During that program she began studying beta delayed proton-gamma emissions from 26P to 25Al to find the absolute intensities of the 25Al gamma rays emitted and also focused on analyzing Doppler-broadening effects from that decay due to the recoil velocity of 25Al. She continued that work in the graduate program at Michigan State and published a paper describing the first observation and application of radiative Doppler broadening in beta delayed proton-gamma decay [Phys. Rev. C 92, 031302(R) (2015)]. This work formed the basis of her M.S. thesis, which she defended successfully on April 26th, 2016. She is now a Scientist with the U.S. Navy.