LSU Physicist Awarded New NSF Research Fellowship - Alumna and Assistant Professor Kristina Launey one of 30 to receive fellowship
BATON ROUGE – The National Science Foundation, or NSF, announced new awards for non-tenured researchers through their Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-4 fellowship program. Kristina Launey, LSU Ph.D. (’03) alumna and assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, is one of 30 to receive the NSF Research Fellowship. These fellowships partner researchers with premier research centers, enhancing their ability to work at the frontiers of science and engineering.
Launey, whose focus is theoretical nuclear physics and astrophysics, will conduct her research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, or LLNL, working on, Ab initio modeling of nuclear reactions for studies of nucleosynthesis and fundamental symmetries in nature.
Ever since the history-making discovery of nuclear fission, which demonstrated the large amount of energy that can be released when the strong bonds between the atomic constituents, neutrons and protons, are broken, theoretical nuclear physicists have searched for a comprehensive explanation of the properties of the atomic nucleus based on knowledge of the strong force between these constituents. This project takes advantage of the instrumentation, computing capabilities and theoretical expertise at the LLNL to develop a theoretical framework that will improve our understanding of these forces.
“This fellowship is a strategic investment that helps non-tenured faculty researchers establish collaborations and partnerships that further advance their research work,” said Cynthia Peterson, LSU College of Science dean. “I am very excited that Kristina was one of a select few chosen for this competitive award and I look forward to seeing the positive impact that this fellowship will have on the theoretical physics-related research taking place at LSU.”
The NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement, or RII, Track-4 fellowship awards about $5.6 million to researchers across 20 states. Awardees will make extended collaborative visits to laboratories and scientific centers, establish partnerships with researchers with complementary expertise, learn new techniques, have access to sophisticated equipment and shift their research focuses in new directions.
Unlike other types of NSF EPSCoR awards, which focus on supporting research centers and partnerships among institutions, RII Track-4 focuses on giving individual researchers the foundation for collaborations that span their entire careers. RII Track-4 supports EPSCoR’s mission of increasing scientific progress nationwide, as fellows enhance the research capacity of their local institutions and jurisdictions.
“NSF EPSCoR takes a comprehensive approach to building U.S. research capabilities,” said NSF acting EP-SCoR head Uma Venkateswaran. “These awards provide non-tenured researchers with tremendous opportunities and result in EPSCoR institutions gaining faculty members and investigators with cutting-edge research experience, who can help build the vibrant science and engineering laboratories and programs of the future.”
The program is open to non-tenured investigators, or those with a close equivalent appointment, from EPSCoR jurisdictions. Currently, 24 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam are eligible to compete for EPSCoR funding. Through EPSCoR, NSF establishes regional partnerships with government, higher education and industry that create lasting improvements in a state’s research infrastructure and research and development capacity.
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