User community focuses on building welcoming scientific collaborations

FRIB hosted the 2023 Low Energy Community Meeting (LECM) 9-11 August. More than 300 members of the worldwide low-energy nuclear physics community—from more than 60 institutions—attended to interact and discuss future plans, initiatives, and instruments.

The LECM organizing committee includes representatives from FRIB, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), the Association for Research at University Nuclear Accelerators (ARUNA), the Center for Nuclear Astrophysics across Messengers (CeNAM), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the FRIB Theory Alliance (FRIB-TA), and the FRIB Users Organization Executive Committee. ANL hosted the meeting last year, and FRIB hosted this year.

LECM 2023 included plenary sessions, four parallel working group sessions that included 16 individual working groups, and two workshops: a workshop on Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) activities and a workshop on building respectful, welcoming, equitable, and inclusive collaborations.

The LECM 2023 plenary sessions featured a presentation about planetary science applications for high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy; a discussion on how the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Office of Nuclear Physics helps build respectful, welcoming, equitable, and inclusive collaborations; perspectives from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation; an update from FRIB-TA; and talks from the 2023 FRIB Early Achievement Award winners.

The meeting also highlighted the status at major user facilities—FRIB, the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS), the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory, and the ARUNA laboratories.

The LECM 2023 affirmation and resolutions stated:

Affirmation: Our community affirms in the strongest possible terms its commitment to foster a diverse and equitable workforce and to support and respect diversity in all its forms. Individually and collectively we commit to ensuring an inclusive and accessible environment for all and taking action if these values are not being upheld.

Resolution #1: The highest priority for low-energy nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics research is to maintain U.S. world leadership in nuclear science by capitalizing on recent investments. To this end, we strongly support:

  • Robust theoretical and experimental research programs and the development and retention of a diverse and equitable workforce;
  • The optimal operation of the FRIB and ATLAS national user facilities;
  • Investments in the ARUNA facilities, and key national laboratory facilities;
  • The FRIB Theory Alliance and all its initiatives.

All are critical to fully realize the scientific potential of the field and foster future breakthroughs.

Resolution #2: The science case for an energy upgrade of FRIB to 400 MeV/u is compelling. FRIB400 greatly expands the opportunities in the field. We strongly endorse starting the upgrade during the upcoming Long Range Plan period to harness its significant discovery potential. We support instrument developments, including the FDS and ISLA, now that GRETA and HRS are underway. These community devices are important to realize the full scope of scientific opportunities.

Resolution #3: Computing is essential to advance all fields of nuclear science. We strongly support enhancing opportunities in computational nuclear science to accelerate discoveries and maintain U.S. leadership by:

  • Strengthening programs and partnerships to ensure the efficient utilization of new high-performance computing (HPC) hardware and new capabilities and approaches offered by artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) and quantum computing (QC);
  • Establishing programs that support the education, training of, and professional pathways for a diverse and multidisciplinary workforce with cross-disciplinary collaborations in HPC, AI/ML, and QC;
  • Expanding access to dedicated hardware and resources for HPC and new emerging computational technologies, as well as capacity computing essential for many research efforts.

Resolution #4: Research centers are important for low-energy nuclear science. They facilitate strong national and international communications and collaborations across disciplines and across theory and experiment. Interdisciplinary centers are particularly essential for nuclear astrophysics to seize new scientific opportunities in this area. We strongly endorse a nuclear astrophysics center that builds on the success of JINA, fulfills this vital role, and propels innovation in the multi-messenger era.

Resolution #5: Nuclear data play an essential role in all facets of nuclear science. Access to reliable, complete and up-to-date nuclear structure and reaction data is crucial for the fundamental nuclear physics research enterprise, as well as for the successes of applied missions in the areas of defense and security, nuclear energy, space exploration, isotope production, and medical applications. It is thus imperative to maintain an effective US role in the stewardship of nuclear data.

  • We endorse support for the compilation, evaluation, dissemination and preservation of nuclear data and efforts to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce that maintains reliable and up-to-date nuclear databases through national and international partnerships.
  • We recommend prioritizing opportunities that enhance the prompt availability and quality of nuclear data and its utility for propelling scientific progress in nuclear structure, reactions and astrophysics and other fundamental physics research programs.
  • We endorse identifying interagency-supported crosscutting opportunities for nuclear data with other programs that enrich the utility of nuclear data in both science and society.

Heavy Element Working Group resolution: Superheavy element research is a vibrant, multidisciplinary, and broad area that relies on:

  1. access to isotopes for beams (48Ca, 50Ti, 54Cr and others) and targets (actinides such as Pu, Am, Cf, and Cm). We acknowledge the recent DOE investments in the field. It is important that DOE IP and NP ensure availability and access for research.
  2. a pipeline of personnel with key specialist skills (such as radiochemistry of actinides). The community strongly supports education, training, and DEI initiatives which enhance this.

Isotopes and Applications resolution: Applied Nuclear Science offers many tangible benefits to the United States and to the world. The Low Energy Nuclear Physics Community recognizes the societal importance of applied research, and strongly encourages support for this exciting and growing field with funding and beamtime allocations that enable critical discovery science that will improve our lives and make us all safer.

Additionally, we strongly encourage the production of research quantities of rare isotopes, which are essential drivers of necessary innovation.