2024 FRIB Visiting Scholar Program for Experimental Science names award winners

05 April 2024

Yassid Ayyad from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Erich Leistenschneider from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are the award recipients for the 2024 Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) Visiting Scholar Program for Experimental Science

They received their awards for their outstanding record and potential impact on the FRIB science program.

In addition, Ivis F. Chaple Gore from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville received a travel stipend to support her radiochemistry collaboration at FRIB.

FRIB initiated the FRIB Visiting Scholar Program for Experimental Science in 2016. The goal of the program is to encourage and help junior researchers to establish a research program at FRIB. The award supports short-term stays at FRIB for junior/non-tenured faculty or staff members and includes a stipend of $5,000 to support travel to FRIB and for establishment of a research program at FRIB.

Yassid Ayyad

Ayyad’s current research investigates the structure of exotic nuclei using the SOLenoid spectrometer Apparatus for ReactIon Studies (SOLARIS). Ayyad plans to develop an active target for rare and hazardous gases such as tritium or helium-3 and work on an optical active target time projection chamber in collaboration with FRIB.

“The technology we develop to investigate the nature of nuclear matter has many different societal applications in diverse fields,” Ayyad said. “For example, our present knowledge on how protons and neutrons interact and rearrange may have a strong impact on quantum communications, a field that is living its second revolution.”

Ayyad said FRIB offers an ideal and unique environment to develop and realize ideas that may initially seem complex. 

“FRIB will play a pivotal role providing the most exotic nuclei that we can produce in a laboratory,” Ayyad said. “One of the main goals is to bolster SOLARIS capabilities to conduct experiments only achievable at FRIB thanks to the collaboration with the FRIB detector laboratory, which provides essential expertise and tools.”

Ayyad received a PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Santiago de Compostela and is currently a Ramon Y Cajal fellow at the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (IGFAE) in Spain. He was a detector systems physicist at FRIB before joining IGFAE.

Erich Leistenschneider

Leistenschneider’s current research focuses on precision spectroscopy of trapped radioactive ions. While at FRIB, Leistenschneider plans to establish a novel experimental program on radioactive decay spectroscopy of bare or nearly bare nuclei that will allow scientists to manipulate or block the behaviors of radioactive decay modes such as electron capture or internal conversion, enabling a wide range of investigations in subatomic physics. 

Leistenschneider, who is currently collaborating with FRIB researchers to build a next-generation, high-resolution mass spectrometer, believes FRIB will play a pivotal role in better understanding nuclear matter in the coming years.

“We hope that FRIB will enable us to probe extremely rare nuclear systems with unprecedented detail—in one way, by producing a few samples of nuclei that are so exotic that are still unthinkable nowadays; in another way—where my research in particular will be highly benefited—by providing a large number of samples of nuclei that we can only get a handful from today's facilities,” Leistenschneider said.

Leistenschneider received a PhD in physics from the University of British Columbia in Canada and is currently a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Previously, he was a research associate with the Low Energy Beam and Ion Trap (LEBIT) Collaboration at FRIB. After working at FRIB, he had a postdoctoral appointment at CERN

Michigan State University (MSU) operates the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) as a user facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), supporting the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. User facility operation is supported by the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics as one of 28 DOE-SC user facilities.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit energy.gov/science.