Lin, a jointly appointed assistant professor of high energy physics-theoretical in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Science, or NatSci, and the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering, jointly administered by NatSci and the College of Engineering, is one of 25 early career academic scientists from across the United States selected this year. The designation comes with a $100,000 award for each recipient for research and teaching.
The Cottrell Scholar program honors and helps to develop outstanding teacher-scholars recognized by their scientific communities for the quality and innovation of their research programs and potential for academic leadership. Selected through a rigorous peer-review process, Cottrell Scholars are leaders in integrating science teaching and research and must be employed at U.S. research universities, degree-granting research institutes, or undergraduate institution.
“The quality of the applicants and the many terrific proposals we receive can make it difficult to choose,” said RCSA Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco. “We look for innovative ideas that are likely to make a positive impact on science and on the education of tomorrow’s scientists.”
“Dr. Huey-Wen Lin is richly deserving of being named a Cottrell Scholar for her excellence as a scholar-educator,” said Stephen Zepf, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “As a scholar, she is a leader in lattice quantum chromodynamics, which aims to calculate from fundamental principles some of the key quantities in physics. At the same time, she is passionately committed to increasing the percentage of women in physics, which has remained low while some other sciences have seen major increases. We are very proud that she is our latest Cottrell Scholar.”
Lin, who is interested in nucleon structure as a critical part of frontier research to unveil the mysteries of the universe and our existence, was selected for her research, “Unveiling the Three-Dimensional Structure of Nucleons.”
“Gluons and quarks are the particles that explain the properties of nucleons,” Lin said. “Understanding how they contribute to nucleon properties, such as mass or spin structure, helps to decode the last part of the standard model that rules our physical world. Because quarks and gluons are always confined within nucleons, however, we cannot single out individual quarks or gluons to study experimentally. Consequently, even after more than half a century of experiments that have improved our understanding of nucleon structure, many questions remain.”
One of these mysteries, the nucleon’s three-dimensional structure, is characterized by such functions as the generalized parton distributions, or GPDs, that scientists still know little about. With the Cottrell award, Lin will explore nucleon GPDs from first principles, using lattice quantum chromodynamics, or LQCD, a computational technique that allows scientists to simulate QCD on supercomputers directly from these fundamental particles, quarks and gluons. For decades, LQCD only calculated the leading moments of nucleon structure. Lin’s plans to conduct the first study of nucleon GPDs at physical pion mass with full systematics included.
“I would like to emphasize that this award is a teacher-scholar award, where the educational plan and teaching training are also important,” Lin said. “I was very lucky to be selected for the MSU STEM Teaching and Learning Fellowship in fall 2019 and have learned a lot through the STEM teaching fellow exercises. My experience as an MSU STEM teaching fellow has helped me greatly in winning this award.”
A foundation, the Research Corporation for Science Advancement provides catalytic funding for innovative scientific research and the development of academic scientists. Since 1912, RCSA has pioneered trends in science and education, funded scientific research and helped scientists solve some of history’s greatest science questions. Over the years, the foundation has supported the work of more than 18,000 scientists, 40 of whom have won Nobel Prizes.
Cottrell Scholars engage in an annual networking event, the Cottrell Scholars Conference, which provides them with an opportunity to share insights and expertise through the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative. This year’s gathering will be held in mid-July in Tucson, Arizona and is expected to draw approximately 100 top scholar-educators from around the United States.
For a complete list of RCSA 2020 Cottrell Scholar awardees, visit the RCSA website.