Physics & Astronomy Welcomes New Faculty Members
The fall semester brings many new beginnings from new students, faculty, and staff to new goals and a new academic year. This fall, the LSU College of Science welcomes new faculty members to the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Learn more about each new colleague below and make sure to give them a big LSU welcome when you see them.
Assistant Professor Natalie Hinkel's research interests include stellar abundance analysis for nearby stars, including investigation of measurement techniques and methodologies, study of the chemical interplay between exoplanets and their host stars, and computational astrophysics and machine learning algorithms, specifically using Python. Hinkel is the architect and maintainer of the Hypatia Catalog: www.hypatiacatalog.com, which is the only standard non-NASA database in use. She is a science communicator via online videos, interviews, and articles (+150,000 views). She earned her PhD in astrophysics from Arizona State University in 2019 and was awarded Postdoc of the Year at Vanderbilt University in 2016.
Assistant Professor Alexis Mercenne’s research interests include theoretical nuclear physics and astrophysics, with a focus on nuclear reactions and low-energy structure of the atomic nucleus. Mercenne has a particular interest in nuclear reactions and their significance to astrophysics, and developing theoretical approaches to nuclear reactions that unite the structure and reactions of nuclei. Mercenne is part of the LSU research professors who were awarded $800K from U.S. Department of Energy with an interdisciplinary project that merges nuclear theory with quantum theoretical and experimental physics. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD from the University of Caen Normandy.
Assistant Professor Michela Negro earned her bachelor’s degree in physics, master's degree in nuclear and sub-nuclear physics, and PhD in physics and astrophysics from the University of Torino in Italy. She is part of the team working on analyzing GRB 221009A, likely the brightest gamma-ray and x-ray burst on record. Her research interests include high-energy astrophysics, multimessenger astronomy involving high-energy neutrinos’ connection with a cross-correlation study involving IceCube data and the Fermi-LAT unresolved gamma-ray background. In addition, she studies astroparticle physics and magnetar giant flares.