FRIB faculty members receive awards from MSU’s College of Natural Science

Several FRIB faculty members received awards from the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Natural Science (NatSci) at the NatSci Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony, held 18 November at MSU’s STEM Teaching and Learning Facility. More than 100 faculty, staff, students, family, and friends attended the event, which annually recognizes NatSci faculty, staff, and students for their achievements and contributions.

  • Alex Brown, professor of physics at FRIB and in the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a 2022 Research Leadership Award.
  • Jaideep Taggart Singh, associate professor of physics at FRIB and in the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a 2022 Undergraduate Teaching Award.
  • Jie Wei, professor of physics at FRIB and in the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy and FRIB’s Accelerator Systems Division Director, received a 2022 Outstanding Faculty Award.
  • Remco Zegers, professor of physics at FRIB and in the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a 2022 Graduate Academic Advisor Award.

The awards are based on nominations submitted from across the college and are evaluated by the NatSci Awards Committee and the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science staff.

“On behalf of NatSci faculty, staff and students I am pleased to congratulate and thank this year's award winners for their outstanding contributions,” said NatSci Dean Phil Duxbury. “Their leadership and hard work make NatSci a better place, and it is an honor to recognize their efforts and to be inspired by their commitment to excellence.”

Alex Brown

Brown was recognized for his outstanding and impactful research and his internationally recognized leadership in his field. The award is based on prominent publications, funding, and other criteria that signify excellence and stature in his field.

Brown earned a PhD in physics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974 and joined the laboratory in 1982. He has collaborated with over 2,000 researchers on over 800 papers, including over 100 in Physical Review Letters. A recipient of the Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists in 1991, Brown has spent parts of his sabbaticals at the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Oxford, the University of Surrey, the University of Oslo, the University of Auckland, the Australian National University, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to extend his research activities and enrich his collaborations.

His scientific research in theoretical nuclear physics is motivated by broad questions in science. He pursues the development of new analytical and computational tools for the description of nuclear structure, especially for nuclei far from stability. He also works with collaborators to develop software for desktop computing as well for high-performance computing. His specific topics of interest include: the structure of light nuclei and nuclei near the driplines, di-proton decay, proton and neutron densities, double beta decay, isospin non-conservation, level densities, quantum chaos, nuclear equations of state for neutron stars, and the rapid-proton capture process in astrophysics.

“I am greatly honored to see my work recognized in this way by this special award,” Brown said. “I came to work in nuclear physics at MSU as a postdoc in 1975 and I have been privileged to participate in its growth at MSU up to the present-day FRIB facility.”

Brown is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was a recipient of Michigan State University’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 2004.

Jaideep Taggart Singh

Singh was recognized as a teacher that takes pride and is committed to quality undergraduate teaching and who demonstrates substantial continuing involvement in undergraduate education. Recipients need to have at least three years of teaching experience at MSU to be eligible for nomination.

Singh earned a PhD in physics at the University of Virginia in 2010 and joined the laboratory in 2014. His passion for creating, manipulating, and detecting spin-polarized nuclei was fostered as an undergraduate at the California Institute of Technology, and is the subject of his research at FRIB.

Singh’s research into pear-shaped nuclei utilizes techniques borrowed from atomic, molecular and optical physics and applies them to problems of fundamental importance in nuclear physics. His research interests include tests of fundamental symmetries, low energy searches of physics beyond the standard model, studying rare nuclear reactions, and studying nucleon structure.

“I appreciate the recognition that I have grown and matured as a more effective instructor,” Singh said.
“For me personally, I was able to barely keep my head above water when I first started teaching. But since then, I have learned a lot and have benefitted from my more talented and experienced colleagues.”

Singh manages the Spinlab at MSU, which tests the fundamental symmetries of nuclei using rare isotopes and nuclear astrophysics.

Jei Wei

Wei was recognized as a faculty member at MSU who has demonstrated excellence in the areas of teaching/mentoring, advising, research, publications, committee work, and public and professional service, as well as serving as a role model to student and colleagues.

Wei’s scientific research involves accelerator physics of high-energy colliders and high-intensity hadron accelerators; beam cooling and crystallization; development of spallation neutron sources; development of compact pulsed hadron sources; development of hadron therapy facilities; development of accelerator driven sub-critical reactor programs for thorium energy utilization and nuclear waste transmutation; and development of accelerators for rare-isotope beams.

Wei said he is honored to receive the award and that the late Hironobu Ozaki, professor emeritus of NatSci, encouraged him to join FRIB. As FRIB’s Accelerator Systems Division Director, he directs the design, fabrication, installation, commissioning, and operations of all aspects of FRIB accelerator systems safely and within the approved budget and schedule. FRIB accelerator systems include ion sources, front-end, linear accelerator, targetry, fragment separator, beam delivery, the cryogenic plant, and supporting systems. He has 33 years of research, management, and teaching experience on particle accelerators, major science projects, and major user facilities.

“I was surprised by the news of this award and feel extremely honored and humbled,” said Wei. “So many people worked so diligently for so long to make FRIB a success—my colleagues deserve it far more than me. I feel fortunate that 12+ years ago MSU, along with Dr. Ozaki, approached me and I made the decision to join FRIB. It has been challenging yet extremely rewarding.”

Wei earned a PhD in Physics at State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1989. His research topics were performance limiting beam-dynamics mechanisms with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). During the next 33 years, his research has focused on accelerator physics and engineering pertaining to frontier accelerator facilities including RHIC at BNL, the U.S. part of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory, the China Spallation Neutron Source project, the Compact Pulsed Hadron Source in China, and now FRIB.

Wei is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the first recipient of the Asian Committee for Future Accelerators/International Particle Accelerator Conference (ACFA/IPAC) prize for original contributions in the accelerator field.

Remco Zegers

Zegers was recognized for his exceptional expertise in advising graduate students in NatSci. His award was given by the NatSci Student Advisory Council, which honors faculty or academic specialists annually.

Zegers earned a PhD in mathematics and natural sciences from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands in 1999, and joined the laboratory in 2003. He is the founder of FRIB’s charge-exchange research group and led the planning for FRIB’s high rigidity spectrometer and serves as that project’s scientific spokesperson.

His scientific research is in experimental nuclear astrophysics, specifically charge-exchange reactions. He is especially interested in supernova and the processes that create elements in the universe. He also studies processes that involve neutrinos and their astrophysical applications to understand how those particles interact with matter.

“I am very thankful to receive the award, in particular to the graduate students in my group and in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, with whom I have very much enjoyed working with and who are a great source of inspiration,” Zegers said. “I am very appreciative of their efforts to make the department, college, and MSU a supportive and welcoming environment for scholarship, career development, and a healthy work-study-life balance.”

Zegers is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.

“Congratulations to Alex, Jaideep, Jie, and Remco for their special recognitions,” said FRIB Laboratory Director Thomas Glasmacher. “They continue to demonstrate their commitment and dedication to students, postdocs, FRIB, and MSU, and they are truly deserving of this honor.”

Read the original College of Natural Science article here: 2022 annual awards ceremony honors NatSci faculty, staff and students