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Professor Wins Funds for Trapping Atoms

31 May 2011

Once a graduate student at TRIUMF, Dan Melconian is returning a recipient of a prestigious award. Now better known as Dr. Dan Melconian, the assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M University, has been recognized with a 2011 United States Department of Energy Early Career Research Award for his achievements and future potential in nuclear physics research.

Melconian was awarded a total of $750,000 over five years for his proposal to study “Fundamental Electroweak Interaction Studies Using Trapped Atoms and Ions.” One of only 67 national award recipients, his proposal was selected from a pool of about 1,150 university and national laboratory-based applicants through peer review by outside scientific experts.

“It is a huge honor to have the importance of my work recognized through this generous and prestigious award,” Melconian said. “I am very excited knowing what a positive impact this Early Career Award will have on my research program.”

The proposal outlines a bi-directional research approach – one focusing on atom-trapping and the other on ion-trapping techniques – in hopes of probing the properties of weak interactions. TRIUMF will be the base for Melconian’s atom-trapping experiments while his work with ion-trapping will take place at Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute. He will use his grant funding to develop novel and elegant techniques to perform complementary beta-decay experiments that will test our understanding of the basic particles and forces that make up the universe. One of such techniques will involve the construction of a unique Penning trap capable of confining short-lived ions.

Despite his success, Melconian has remained true to his roots, saying that he would like to “thank TRIUMF for giving me such excellent training and giving me the tools I needed to succeed.  My continued collaboration with TRINAT proves I want to stay a part of the exciting work going on at TRIUMF and to work with the world-class personnel there.”

It will be an exciting time indeed as his experiments get under way at TRIUMF! Congratulations to Dr. Dan Melconian, and we wish him the best of luck!

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-- Posted by Lena Sitnikova, Outreach Assistant