CENTAUR Directors:

Sherry J. Yennello, Program Director

 Prof. Sherry J. Yennello

Director of CENTAUR and Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M University

In the nuclear equation of state, the energy associated with an imbalance of neutrons and protons is termed the asymmetry energy. The density dependence of this quantity is currently the largest uncertainty. The Yennello Research Group focuses on further constraining this density dependence using heavy-ion collisions. Utilizing the K500 and K150 cyclotrons, heavy-ion projectiles are accelerated to up to 40% the speed of light and collided with stationary targets. These reactions are important for studying structure, chemical composition and the evolution of neutron stars and dynamics of supernovae explosions.
Lauren McIntosh, Managing Director & Science Coordinator

Lauren McIntosh

Managing Director & Science Coordinator and Assistant Research Scientist at Texas A&M University

As the Managing Director of CENTAUR, McIntosh facilitates collaboration between the institutions and manages activities and meetings for the center. Outside of CENTAUR, McIntosh studies questions of the density-dependence of the nuclear equation of state and other astrophysically-relevant questions experimentally with the Yennello group. She is also involved in developing isotope production capabilities at Texas A&M.



CENTAUR Faculty:

Aldo Bonasera, Texas A&M University
Aldo Bonasera

Aldo Bonasera Website Senior Research Scientist Cyclotron Institute, Texas A&M University

Measuring Fusion Cross Sections in Plasmas We presented for the first time a new and general method for measuring the astrophysical S factor of nuclear reactions in laser-induced plasmas and we applied it to 2H(d,n), 3He and 3He(d,p)α. The experiment was performed with the Texas Petawatt Laser, which delivered 150–270 fs pulses of energy ranging from 90 to 180 J to D2 or CD4 molecular clusters. We used scintillators to detect the 14.7 MeV proton coming from the fusion reaction. In more recent experiments we improved the technique to measure the plasma ion distribution and measured hard γ (less than 5 MeV) coming from the plasma. We prepared the CD4 cluster gas at the critical point of the liquid gas phase transition and let it expand in vacuum. We measured the range of the ions in the cold and hot regions of the plasma and the number of neutrons produced. We found that the initial correlations in the gas due to the phase transition influence the range and the number of fusions. We saw a good agreement with predictions using the Fisher’s model of 2nd order phase transitions. In these experiments the plasma is at relatively low density (of the order of 1018 cm-3) and the laser does not compress it. We have performed other experiments at SGII-Shanghi, China compressing solid CD2 target by means of 8 laser beams (Elaser about 16 kJ in 3 ns) in cylindrical symmetry. Different methods to measure the plasma ion distributions and the fusion reactions were used. From a preliminary analysis we found that the system gets compressed about 4000 times its initial value but the plasma temperature at maximum compression is rather low, of the order of 1 keV. The range seems to be orders of magnitude larger than predictions using SRIM. The final goal is to be able to measure the fusion cross sections in such extreme conditiimproving the detecting system.

Constrained Molecular Dynamics (CoMD) Model Microscopic dynamical models such as the Constrained Molecular Dynamics (CoMD) model have been very successful in describing a large amount of data in fragmentation, fusion, fission and more recently in charge-exchange reactions. However, this approach and similar ones, fail in reproducing binding energies and other properties of light nuclei. Some aspect of clusterization and the possibility of Bose Einstein Condensation in nuclear dynamics are also not well described in the model. As a result the yield of α-particles in fragmentation reactions is underestimated and the binding energies of neutron rich (poor) nuclei are not well described in the model. The approach uses a Skyrme type force, which includes the symmetry energy term and a simplified three body potential. Pauli blocking is enforced as a constraint, which helps in saving CPU time while preserving general features of Fermions. In a recent version of CoMD we have implemented a second constraint to take into account the Heisenberg principle as well. Bosonic effects have also been included in the collision term for d-d and α-α collisions. We plan to introduce realistic three body forces (including Efimo-type potentials) and (i)spin-(i)spin interaction to reproduce the binding energies of d, t, 3He and α particles which were poorly described in the original model. We are also in the process of introducing 1s type forces. The requirement for the new forces is not just to reproduce properties of finite nuclei but also properties of nuclear (neutron) matter. These aspects are experimentally studied at Texas A&M. A strong collaboration with experimentalists has been fruitful in the past and we plan to keep this tradition going. Aspects of the competition between Fermionic and Bosonic degrees of freedom will be pursued. The production of superheavy nuclei and fission is also of interest as in previous works.

Aurel Bulgac, University of Washington
Aurel Bulgac

Aurel Bulgac Website Professor of Physics University of Washington, Seattle

Dr. Bulgac studies static and non-equilibrium dynamics of quantum many-body systems, typically strongly interacting fermions. Physical systems include atomic nuclei, the crust of neutron star crust, cold atom systems. Physical phenomena range from ground and excited state properties of such systems, energy density functionals, equation of state, thermodynamic properties, nuclear reactions, real-time fission dynamics, quantized vortices, their generation and their dynamics, incipient stages of quantum turbulence in fermionic superfluids. He develops and uses static and time-dependent density functional theory extended to fermionic superfluids, quantum Monte Carlo methods and other theoretical approaches, as well as their numerical implementation. Numerical calculations are performed typically on leading edge supercomputers, such a Summit (#1 on TOP 500) and Titan  (#9 on TOP 500) at ORNL, Piz Daint (#5 on TOP 500), at Swiss national Supercomputer Center, Lugano, Switzerland, and Tsubame at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. His group uses GPUs programmed with CUDA on these supercomputers in order to  perform calculations on these supercomputers as close as possible to their peak capabilities. Many details can be inferred from his publication list and personal web page, where one can find links to talks, many videos, codes, and other pertinent information.

Sergio Almaraz-Calderon, Florida State University
Sergio Almaraz-Calderon

Sergio Almaraz-Calderon Website Assistant Professor of Physics Florida State University

Dr.Calderon's research focuses on the study of nuclear interactions and how they influence astrophysical processes. His research interests include nuclear structure, nuclear reactions, nuclear astrophysics, stable and radioactive ion beams, and detector development.

Greg Christian, Texas A&M University
Greg Christian

Greg Christian Website Assistant Professor Department of Physics & Astronomy, Texas A&M University

Radioactive capture reactions–(p, γ), (n, γ), and (α, γ)–are important both for understanding nucleosynthesis in stellar environments and for national security. For many important reactions, the target nucleus is short lived. This makes direct measurements of the reaction rates extremely challenging, and in many cases impossible. As a result, indirect techniques must be used to understand the rates of these reactions experimentally. In this project, nucleon transfer reactions such as (d, p), (6Li, d), and (p, t) are used to populate and study the specific resonant states through which important radiative capture reactions proceed. In the experiments, a large-area, position-sensitive silicon detector array is combined with the MDM magnetic spectrometer and gamma-ray detectors to measure the spins, spectroscopic strengths, and branching ratios of these resonant states. From these measurements, theoretical techniques are used to indirectly determine the rate of the radiative capture reaction of interest and, in turn, to improve understanding of the nucleosynthesis or national security topic of interest. Improved technologies for detecting fast neutrons are important both for improving understanding of a variety of topics in basic and applied nuclear science. These include nuclear structure away from stability, nuclear astrophysics, measurements of prompt fission neutron cross sections, and detection of hidden WMDs. Current fast neutron detectors based on plastic or liquid scintillators are limited in both position and energy resolution, which in turn affects the quality of experiments for basic and applied nuclear science. This project will explore methods of improving the position sensitivity of fast neutron detectors by coupling plastic scintillators to pixelated photon detectors – SiPMs or PMTs. Analysis of the distribution of scintillation light at the various pixels will be used to triangulate the source of the light, and thus the neutron interaction point. In particular, techniques from the medical imaging community will be applied to fast neutron detection for the first time, with the promise to improve position sensitivity of fast neutron detectors to 1 cm or better, without a significant loss in timing/energy resolution, or in efficiency.

Paul Cottle, Florida State University

Paul Cottle Website Professor of Physics Florida State University

Paul Cottle is a professor of physics at Florida State University whose research field is experimental nuclear structure physics.  He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale in 1986 and joined the Physics Department faculty at Florida State University that same year as an Assistant Professor.  Cottle received the Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1987 and became a full professor in 1994.   Cottle was elected to the chair line of the American Physical Society Forum on Education in 2011 and served as Forum chair in 2013.  He was also a member of the society’s Committee on Education from 2012 to 2014, serving as chair 2013-2014. He was elected a Fellow of the APS by the Forum on Education in 2012.   Cottle continues to perform experimental nuclear structure research both at FSU’s Fox Superconducting Accelerator Laboratory and at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.   Cottle is also working to improve the preparation of Florida’s high school students for college majors in fields like engineering, computer science and physics.  He has collaborated with teachers, counselors and school district staff and board members in Bay, Monroe and Orange Counties in Florida. In Bay County (which includes Panama City), the number of high school students taking physics has increased by a factor of five since 2015.  As part of his work in Bay County, Cottle helps organize a CENTAUR-funded nuclear science summer camp for middle and high school students.

Jeremy Holt, Texas A&M University
Jeremy Holt

Jeremy Holt Website Assistant Professor of Physics Texas A&M University

Microscopic nuclear structure and reaction theory has undergone a major transformation in the last decade with the development of chiral effective field theory, the low-energy realization of quantum chromodynamics. My research program utilizes "next-to-first principles" chiral two- and three-body forces to derive nucleon single-particle properties (momentum- and density-dependent isoscalar and isovector optical potentials, effective masses, and spectral functions) in order to improve modeling of neutron-capture reaction rates in r-process nucleosynthesis and particle transport in experimental heavy-ion collisions.

Miguel Madurga, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Miguel Madurga Website Assistant Professor of Physics, University of  Tennessee Knoxville

Dr. Miguel Madurga research interest lies in the nuclear properties of nuclei with extreme neutron-proton imbalances. The atomic nucleus offers a unique problem in fundamental physics, being the smallest system self- bound by the strong force. In the field of low energy nuclear physics we explore the properties nuclear force between nucleons. The strong dependency of the nuclear force to the exact composition of neutron and protons observationally supports it being an effective (or dressed) interaction derived from the strong force.  By studying the nuclear structure of light neutron rich nuclei close to the neutron drip line, at the most extreme neutron to proton ratios we can therefore study the nuclear interaction in the most “demanding” conditions. In Dr. Madurga’s most recent work: the decay to quasi-single particle states in 133Sn was investigated; the presence of isomeric states in neutron rich Mg isotopes was used to deduce the limits of the N=20 and N=28 islands of inversion.

Scott Marley, Louisiana State University
Scott Marley

Scott Marley Website Assistant Professor of Physics Louisiana State University

Prof. Marley is an experimental nuclear physicist interested the structure and decay properties of unstable atomic nuclei. Joined by a CENTAUR-supported graduate student, Marley will use transfer reaction experiments to study the structure of light-mass isotopes at the limits of β-stability. The group aims to improve knowledge of trends in the structure of light nuclei moving toward less bound systems and to test the most modern theoretical approaches to the nuclear many-body problem.

Dan Melconian, Texas A&M University
Dan Melconian

Dan Melconian Website Associate Professor of Physics Texas A&M University, College Station

Precision measurements of the decays of radioactive nuclei produced by the cyclotrons are a powerful probe of the fundamental forces governing our universe. Using elegant techniques in "table-top" experiments both locally at the Cyclotron Institute as well as at other laboratories, our group aims to complement the efforts of our colleagues at larger facilities (such as the Large Hadron Collider) to search for physics beyond our current understanding as encapsulated in the Standard Model of particle physics.

Some of the main projects being pursued include measuring decay properties of unstable nuclei (lifetimes, branching ratios and masses) and angular distributions of the decay products of atoms and ions confined in magneto-optical and Penning traps. Our main endeavour within CENTAUR, with collaborators from Lawrence Livermore and Argonne National Laboratories, aims to improve our knowledge of how many fissions occur in a chain reaction. In particular, the fission products 147Nd and 156Eu (along with other long-lived isotopes) play a crucial role in science-based stockpile stewardship and nuclear forensics. The uncertainties on the γ-branching ratios measured for these isotopes currently compromise the usefulness of the existing data, which is what we are working to remedy. The γ-ray branching ratios of 147Nd and 156Eu are known to only 8%, hence leading to an 8% uncertainty in the fission-chain yield. The absolute γ-ray branching ratios for 147Nd and 156Eu are needed to 1–2% precision for national-security applications and to greatly improve the precision and reliability with which the number of fissions can be determined.

Ralf Rapp, Texas A&M University
Ralf Rapp

Ralf Rapp Website Professor of Physics Texas A&M University

Photons emitted in heavy-ion collisions are particularly valuable probes to study the properties of the strongly interacting matter formed in heavy-ion collisions: once produced, they can escape the nuclear fireball without rescattering and thus probe its inner hot and dense regions. We will first compute the thermal photon emission rates for the temperatures and densities relevant for heavy-ion collisions in the Fermi energy regime. We will then implement these rates into transport calculations for the evolution of the fireball, by extracting local temperatures and densities. The calculated spectra will be compared to experiments to deduce the temperatures and densities reached in these reactions, and how the matter properties change as its isospin concentration is varied.

Grigory Rogachev, Texas A&M University

Grigory Rogachev

Website Department of Physics & Astronomy, Texas A&M University

Grigory Rogachev is specializing in low energy experimental nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics. He is doing research related to structure of light and medium mass nuclei, in particular structure of exotic neutron-rich and neutron-deficient isotopes, clustering phenomena in nuclei, mechanisms of nuclear reactions, applications of nuclear physics methods for determining rates of nuclear reactions that drive nucleosynthesis and energy generation in stellar environment. Grigory Rogachev graduated from Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (State University) in 1996 with Master of Science degree in Experimental Nuclear Physics. From 1996 to 1999 Grigory Rogachev was a Research Assistant at the National Research Center "Kurchatov Institute" where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1999. From 2000 to 2004 he was associated with the University of Notre Dame, first as a Ph.D. Research Associate and later as a Research Assistant Professor (2003-2004). In summer of 2004 Grigory Rogachev joined Department of Physics at Florida State University as an Assistant Professor. In 2010 he was tenured and promoted to an Associate Professor. In summer of 2013 he joined faculty at the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Cyclotron Institute at Texas A&M University.

Anna Simon, University of Notre Dame
Anna Simon

Anna Simon Website Associate Professor University of Notre Dame

Stellar nucleosynthesis processes involve thousands of reactions for which the cross sections need to be described using theoretical models. For a wide variety of processes, e.g. p-, s- and r-process the nucleosynthesis path runs through heavy nuclei, thus statistical Hauser-Feshbach (HF) models can be applied to describe the cross sections. HF models requires as input, among others, g-strength (gSF) and level density (LD) functions, and optical model potential (OMP). A wide variety of models that describe these quantities (see e.g. TALYS code), results in cross sections predictions that can vary even by an order of magnitude, resulting in large uncertainties in network calculations of the nucleosynthesis processes.The Oslo method provides a well-established tool to extract the gSF and LD from experimental data. Such measurements allow for constraining the inputs for the HF models and as a result minimize the uncertainties in the network calculations. The Oslo-type experiments require simultaneous measurement of the γ rays and the excitation energy of the produced nucleus. This is typically done using scintillator detectors and particle telescopes. The Oslo-type experiments have shown that the gSF exhibits an unanticipated behavior at lower energies: the so-called upbend. This feature has been shown to exist in nuclei as heavy as 138La. However, the scintillators do not allow for extraction of the gSF below 1 MeV. Thus, for heavier nuclei, where the upbend shifts towards lower gamma-ray energies, the results from experiments using scintillator detectors are inconclusive, as they do not probe the gSF far enough.The STARLiTeR/HYPERION array at the Cyclotron Institute of Texas A&M University provides a unique environment to perform Oslo-type experiments using Compton suppressed clover detectors combined with a DE-E telescope. The Compton suppression of the gamma-detectors is a key to extending the lower limit of the gSF measurements even to 0.5 MeV, which unravels the features that could not be observed during traditional Oslo-type experiments. A recent experiment performed using the STARLiTeR array for 152,154Sm(p,d)151,153Sm revealed an upbend in the heaviest investigated nucleus so far.

Lee Sobotka, Washington University in St. Louis

Lee Sobotka

Website Professor of Chemistry and Physics

Dr. Sobotka’s received his Ph.D. from the university of California-Berkeley in 1982 and joined the faculty at Washington University in 1984 and has remained there ever since as a professor of both chemistry and physics. His research interests include: the deexcitation modes of highly excited or exotic nuclei; the continuum structure of light nuclei; dynamics of nuclear fusion and fission; the asymmetry dependence nucleon correlations inside of nuclei; the asymmetry dependence of the equation of state of nuclear matter; advanced radiation detectors and associated electronics including ASIC design. He has worked at over 20 different accelerator or reactor laboratories. Early in his career he won a Presidential Young investigator Award and has since won the Glenn Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry from the ACS and he is a fellow of the APS.

Sam Tabor, Florida State University

Sam Tabor

Website Professor of Physics, Florida State University

Samuel Tabor is the Norman P. Heydenberg Professor of Physics at Florida State University.  His research field is Experimental Nuclear Physics. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was awarded the APS Division of Nuclear Physics mentoring award for 2019.  He has directed the research of 24 Ph.D. graduates. His research projects have included nuclear size measurements, heavy-ion fusion, heavy-ion induced fission, and many aspects of nuclear structure, including high-spin sequences and rotational bands, cross-shell excitations, giant resonances, and the interplay with nuclear structure models.

Ingo Wiedenhöver, Florida State University

Ingo Wiedenhöver

Website Professor of Physics, Florida State University Director, John D. Fox Accelerator Laboratory

Ingo Wiedenhöver received his Ph.D. from the Universität zu Köln (Germany) in 1995, in the field of experimental nuclear physics.  He worked as a Postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory and a Research Assistant Professor at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory of Michigan State University. In 2001 he joined the faculty at the Physics Department of Florida State University, where he is now a full Professor.  He received an “Outstanding Junior Investigator” award with the U.S. Department of Energy in 2002. He has been the director of the John D. Fox accelerator laboratory at FSU since 2017. His research is focused on the structure of exotic nuclei and nuclear astrophysics, performing experiments at National Laboratories and at FSU. He developed the in-flight exotic beam facility RESOLUT at the John D. Fox laboratory, which is used for research in Nuclear Astrophysics. He also works on improving the experimental methods for such experiments, in particular with the active-target detector ANASEN and neutron-detectors. He has also re-commissioned the Super-Enge Split-Pole spectrograph for high-resolution particle spectroscopy at the FSU laboratory. He has supervised the research of ten Ph.D. graduates.

Akram Zhanov, Texas A&M University
Akram Zhanov

Akram Zhanov Website Senior Research Scientist in Physics Texas A&M University

Akram Zhanov is a senior scientist at the Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute. His research focuses on advancing theory of low-energy nuclear reactions, neutron and proton radiative capture reactions, indirect methods in nuclear astrophysics, stellar nucleosynthesis, and few-body systems.

CENTAUR Post-Doctoral Researchers: 

Benjamin Asher, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Ben Asher Ben Asher is a postdoctoral research associate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville. As a member of Dr. Miguel Madurga’s research group, he works with Florida State University in developing an ion source to deliver tritium beams for nuclear reaction studies. Ben completed his PhD from FSU in 2021; his graduate research focused primarily on designing, constructing, and experimenting with the ‘Encore’ active target detector, exploring the effect of light exotic nuclei in the fusion process.
Cody Parker, Texas A&M University
Cody Parker Cody Parker is a postdoctoral research associate at the Cyclotron Institute in Prof. Greg Christian’s group. She is working with CENTAUR-affiliated graduate students and faculty on prototyping a new fast neutron detector. The goal of the highly-segmented design is to achieve position resolution of about 1 cm without sacrificing timing, energy resolution, or efficiency. A detector with these capabilities will be beneficial for applied nuclear science, such as measuring fission neutron cross sections or as a portal monitor. Basic nuclear physics will also be explored, including reactions relevant to nuclear astrophysics or neutron decay of isotopes off of the line of stability, such as 6He. You can download a poster of her research here.

CENTAUR Students:

Austin Abbott, Texas A&M University

Austin Abbott

Austin Abbott is a graduate student at Texas A&M University who works under Dr. Sherry Yennello at the TAMU Cyclotron Institute. His research involves studying (d,p) reactions as a surrogate for (n,γ) reactions, specifically that of 59Fe(d,p)60Fe, and measuring the resulting γ-ray strength function which will help to constrain astrophysical models for processes in nucleosynthesis. Other research interests include alpha-alpha correlation functions in heavy ion collisions.You can download a poster of Abbott's research.

Ibrahim Abdurrahman, University of Washington

Ibrahim Abdurrahman

Ibrahim Abdurrahman is a graduate student at the University of Washington working under Professor Aurel Bulgac.  His research focuses on understanding nuclear dynamics, such as collisions or fission, using microscopic approaches.  Currently we are completing projects involving the fission of 236U and the collision of two 238U nuclei.  You can download a poster of Abdurrahman's research.

Caleb Benetti, Florida State University

Caleb Benetti

Caleb Benetti is a graduate research assistant working under Dr. Sam Tabor on gamma ray spectroscopy and nuclear structure at The John D. Fox Superconducting Linear Accelerator Laboratory at Florida State. Isotopes of interest are 37Ar and 29Si, with and ongoing program for gamma tagging of decay fragments in induced fission of 242Pu. He is involved in the building and commissioning of the Clarion2 HPGe array. You can download a poster of Benetti's research.

Rachel Malecek, Louisiana State University
Rachel Malecek

Rachel Malecek is a graduate research assistant with Prof. Scott Marley. Malecek is interested in studying the structure and decay properties of light-mass, unstable atomic nuclei with transfer reaction experiments then testing modern theoretical approaches to the nuclear many-body problem. You can download a poster on Malecek's research.


David McClain, Texas A&M University

David McClain

David McClain is a graduate student at the Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute working under Dr. Dan Melconian. He is a part of a collaboration working to measure the Fierz parameter through the beta decay energy measurements of 6He. His research involves the understanding and development of a Penning trap for a Cyclotron Radiation Emission Spectroscopy experiment. You can download a poster on McClain's research.
Ashton Morelock, Florida State University

Ashton Morelock

Ashton Morelock is a graduate Research Assistant at Florida State University working with Dr. Sergio Almaraz-Calderon. Her research currently involves expansion of the CATRiNA neutron detector array and development of an algorithm to extract neutron energies without relying on ToF information using a method called spectrum unfolding

Morgan Nasser, Texas A&M University

Morgan Nasser

Mr. Nasser is a member of Dan Melconian's research group at the Cyclotron Institute.

The Melconian group is developing TAMUTRAP, the largest Penning trap in the world, to be used for T=2 ß-delayed proton emission studies.  This will serve as a probe of the fundamental structure of the electroweak interaction in the Standard Model. Mr. Nasser is concluding studies regarding ion motion manipulation and mass measurements, as well as the development of programs pertaining to them. Going forward, he'll be continuing the simulations for 32Ar experimentation in preparation for the main experiment. You can download a poster on Nasser's research.

Thomas Onyango, Texas A&M University
Thomas Onyango

Thomas Onyango is a graduate student at Texas A&M University. Onyango graduated from the University of North Texas in 2018 with a B.S. in physics minors in both engineering technology and mathematics. His undergraduate thesis focused on possible entropy production from quantum mechanical measurements that would not be represented by thermodynamics. Onyango began studying Texas A&M during an REU for the Cyclotron Institute with Dr. Rapp in 2017 and began working in 2018. In his work with Dr. Rapp, Onyango assisted him with the parameterization of the rho meson spectral function in hot, dense matter. Currently under Dr. Rapp, Onyango is using Dr. Bonasera's transport codes to analyze Ca40-Ca40 collisions to analyze the evolution of fireballs over time and space.

Bryan Orabutt, Washington University in St. Louis

Bryan Orabutt

Craig Reingold, University of Notre Dame

Craig Reingold

Craig is a graduate fellow at the University of Notre Dame, under the advisement of Prof. Anna Simon. He received his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University, where he performed research with neutron spectroscopy. His current research interests revolve around indirect measurements of reaction cross sections relevant to nuclear astrophysics. The topic of his thesis is using particle-γ coincidence measurements to study neutron capture reactions indirectly.

Dustin Scriven, Texas A&M University

Dustin Scriven

Dustin Scriven is a graduate student at Texas A&M University who works under Dr. Greg Christian at the TAMU Cyclotron Institute. In collaboration with others, he and his colleagues are working on the development of a highly segmented fast neutron detector. They hope to use this detector to investigate nuclear structure and processes for neutron and multi-neutron emission from nuclei. Dustin performs simulations for the detector and is also involved in prototyping. He is also interested in the deep relationship between nuclear physics and astrophysics. You can download a poster of his research here.

Maxwell Sorensen, Texas A&M University

Maxwell Sorenson

Maxwell Sorensen is a chemistry graduate student at Texas A&M University, working in Dr. Sherry Yennello’s group.  He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018. His undergraduate research was with Demetrios Sarantites on lifetime measurements of heavy fission fragments using the doppler shift attenuation method.  His research focus is on the measurement of the photon strength function of 60Fe using 59Fe (d,pγ) 60Fe as the probe. Other research interest is the nuclear caloric curve probed using quasi projectiles produced in heavy ion collisions. You can download a poster on Sorensen's research.

Eli Temanson, Florida State University

Eli Temanson

Eli Temanson is a graduate student working with Ingo Wiedenhöver at Florida State University's John D. Fox Superconducting Linear Accelerator Laboratory. His research includes the upgrade development of ResoNeut, an array of low energy neutron detectors for astrophysically relevant reactions in inverse kinematics. 


Eric Aboud, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Eric Aboud

I joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Nuclear Criticality Safety Division in January 2022.  My research agenda includes integral experiment studies using plutonium and low-temperature uranium variations of the Tex array as well as detector development and support measurements for nuclear data.

Brittany Abromeit, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Brittany Abromeit Brittany Abromeit

Brittany Abromeit was a graduate research assistant with Dr. Sam Tabor, director of the accelerator laboratory at Florida State University. Abromeit's studies included the nuclear structure of 39Ar and 39P using gamma spectroscopy, at the John D. Fox Superconducting Linear Accelerator Laboratory and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University. You can also download a poster on Abromeit's Research. Currently, she is a post-doctoral researcher in the Detection Systems group in the National Security Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington.

Eames Bennett, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Eames Bennett

Eames joined Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in September 2020 to work on the Chi-Nu experiment at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center. His research currently centers on making measurements of the prompt fission neutron spectra of various actinides. In addition to this, Eames has been working with Keegan Kelly to develop a next-generation highly-segmented dual neutron-gamma detector array to measure neutron scattering cross sections and angular distributions. Eames earned his PhD at Texas A&M University's Cyclotron Institute as part of the Center for Excellence in Nuclear Training and University-based Research program. While there, he helped commission the TIARA for Texas detector array, made indirect measurements of astrophysically-relevant nuclear reactions, and helped design and build a prototype novel penning trap for use at the TAMUTRAP facility. He also holds a MS in physics from Texas A&M University as well as a BA in physics from Bard College. In his spare time, Eames enjoys cycling, photography, hiking with his dog, and backpacking. You can download a poster of Bennett's research.

Alexandra Bosh, United States Navy

Alexandra Bosh

After leaving TAMU Alexandra joined the United States Navy signing a contract to become a nuclear trained surface warfare officer.  Currently she is attending Officer Candidate School.  Upon graduation she will be commissioning as an officer then headed off to Rota, Spain to gain her SWO qualifications on the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke.  After completion of her qualifications Alexandra will be headed off to Nuclear Power School for training on how to operate and maintain the nuclear reactors on board the nuclear powered surface ships of the Navy.

Kyle Godbey, Michigan State University

Kyle Godbey

Kyle is currently a postdoctoral research associate at FRIB pursuing real-time microscopic descriptions of nuclear dynamics. Kyle's interests span from light element nucleosynthesis through the formation and subsequent fission of superheavy elements with a strong emphasis being placed on high-performance computing applications to nuclear physics.

Ashley Hood, Space X

Ashley Hood

Ashley Hood joined CENTAUR as a postdoctoral research associate. She studied multinucleon transfer reactions with the Yennello group at the Cyclotron Institute. Before joining CENTAUR, she earned her Ph. D. in 2019 from Louisiana State University, where her dissertation research focused on experimental measurements of fusion reaction cross sections. Hood now works as a Test Engineer at the SpaceX Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, TX. She currently tests the Draco rockets, which are mounted on the Dragon capsules and used in-space for orbital maneuvers and docking with the International Space Station. She has found that her experimental experience translates well into test engineering and is enjoying the challenge of working with hypergolic propellants and learning rocket science.

Shi Jin, Amazon

Shi Jin 

Graduate Student in Physics at the University of Washington

Shi Jin was a graduate research assistant with Professor Aurel Bulgac in the Department of Physics at University of Washington. Shi’s research included the theoretical study of nuclear structure and dynamics using the density functional theory (DFT) and its time-dependent extension (TDDFT). His current project is the simulations of fission dynamics with TDDFT. He has gone on to a new job at Amazon. You can download a poster on Jin's research.

Jesus Perello, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Jesus Perello

Jesus Perello was a graduate student at Florida State University working with Dr. Sergio Almaraz-Calderon. During his PhD, he worked on characterizing and developing the CATRiNA neutron detector system for reactions relevant in nuclear structure and nuclear astrophysics research. Currently he is a postdoctoral research associate in the Space Science and Applications (ISR-1) group within the Intelligence and Space Research Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. At Los Alamos, he works on characterizing and developing  a neutron detector system for active neutron interrogation using organic scintillators, as well as characterizing the neutron environment in space near low-Earth orbit with inorganic scintillators.

Cole Pruitt, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Cole Pruitt

Cole Pruitt is a staff scientist in the Design Physics Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His recent work includes scientific code development on the Selene physics library, uncertainty quantification for optical potentials, and support for LLNL’s International Assessments program. He was supported by CENTAUR while a PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis, where his research included neutron total cross sections measurements at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) and advancing the Dispersive Optical Model (DOM). CENTAUR members can reach him at

Craig Reingold

Craig Reingold

Craig is a graduate fellow at the University of Notre Dame, under the advisement of Prof. Anna Simon. He received his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University, where he performed research with neutron spectroscopy. His current research interests revolve around indirect measurements of reaction cross sections relevant to nuclear astrophysics. The topic of his thesis is using particle-γ coincidence measurements to study neutron capture reactions indirectly.

Elizabeth Rubino, Florida State University

Elizabeth Rubino

Elizabeth Rubino is a graduate student working under Dr.Sam Tabor at Florida State University's John D. Fox Superconducting Linear Accelerator Laboratory. Her studies include nuclear structure of 41^K and 41^Ca using gamma spectroscopy. She is also studying spontaneous fission fragments of 248^Cm and induced fission fragments of light beams on 242^Pu using gamma spectroscopy. You can download a poster on Rubino's research.

Naomi Schroeder, Draper Lab

Naomi Schroeder

Naomi is a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Draper Lab, where she works on radiation effects in the Contested Environment Test Solutions group. Previously she received her MS as a member of Dan Melconian’s group at the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute. While there, she evaluated the requirements of the TAMUTRAP system for high-precision measurements of ß-delayed proton decays to measure fundamental symmetries.

Taylor Whitehead, Michigan State University

Taylor Whitehead

Taylor Whitehead is a postdoctoral researcher at FRIB in the group of Filomena Nunes. Taylor's background is in the development of modern nucleon-nucleus optical potentials from chiral effective field theory. At FRIB, Taylor looks forward to continuing his work in reaction theory by collaborating with Filomena in developing theoretical tools to study direct reactions and make connections to FRIB experiments.

CENTAUR Affiliates:

Aaron Couture, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Aaron Couture

Aaron Couture
Research Scientist in Physics
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Aaron Couture is engaged in the experimental study of neutron capture by hook or by crook. Neutron capture is responsible for the production of almost all of the observed elements heavier than iron. Nuclear waste transmutation concepts rely on neutron capture to reduce long-lived radionuclide inventories. Nuclear forenics relies on understanding neutron reaction networks. Where possible, these reactions are measured directly with neutron beam facilities such as LANSCE at Los Alamos. These measurements are complemented by nuclear structure studies on rare isotope beams. This structure information is used to inform and guide nuclear reaction modeling use to predict neutron capture reaction rate predictions off stability. You can also download a poster on his research here: 'Nuclear Science at LANSCE'.


Peter Kuchment, Texas A&M University
Peter Kuchment

Peter Kuchment 
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Mathematics, Texas A&M University

His work is focused in the areas of mathematical physics, medical and homeland security imaging, material science, and enhancement of math education.

He had been part of a previous A&M NSF-DHS funded project devoted to prevention of smuggling illicit nuclear materials, where he with collaborators developed techniques of passive detection of presence of such sources, vs high noise background from their gamma-emission. He is currently part of a group lead by Prof. Rogachev that works on neutron detection for the same purpose of prevention of smuggling special nuclear materials.

He has written several books including 'The Radon Transform and Medical Imaging' and 'Introduction to Quantum Graphs'. You can also download few posters on his research here: 'Compton Camera Imaging' and 'Source Detection in 2D High Noise Emission Type Problems Using Cone Data'.

Shea Mosby, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Shea Mosby

Shea Mosby
Research Scientist
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Neutron-induced reactions play an important role in nuclear technology and national security fields such as stockpile stewardship. Physics quantities of interest include neutron-induced fission cross sections, the fission total kinetic energy release and fission fragment mass distributions. Mosby and his team are developing an instrumentation suite which, when combined with the neutron beams available at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, will provide next generation experimental constraints on these quantities. Neutron-induced reactions on short-lived nuclei are an additional area of interest which pose unique challenges and preclude many of the traditional experimental techniques. His work also includes investigating both indirect probes of the reaction mechanics and the feasibility of directly studies of neutron-induced reactions in inverse kinematics. You can also download a poster on his research here: 'Nuclear Science at LANSCE'.