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June 12, 2022

Physics graduate student receives prestigious DOE grant

Michigan State University graduate student Hannah Christine Berg is the recipient of a highly competitive Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program grant.

Berg is one of 80 outstanding graduate students representing 27 states in the program, each of whom was selected through peer review by external scientific experts. Awards for this cohort were made through the SCGSR program’s second of two annual solicitation cycles for FY 2021.

Hannah Christine Berg

Berg, a Ph.D. student in nuclear astrophysics working at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, plans to conduct her research on using low-energy beams from the CAlifornium Rare Isotope Breeder Upgrade to constrain neutron-capture reactions of importance to the i-process at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Her collaborating DOE researcher will be Darren Bleuel, a scientist at LLNL with a background in experimental nuclear physics.

“I am honored to be awarded this opportunity to do research at Lawrence Livermore National Lab,” Berg said. "I look forward to working with the local experts and expanding my knowledge in the field at LLNL, where I will be working specifically to combine indirect measurement methods for neutron-capture processes, which is important to understand how elements are produced in stars.

Berg’s project involves measuring the ß-decay of 152-154Pr into 152-154Nd and applying the ß-Oslo method to extract the nuclear level density and ?-ray strength function of 152-154Nd. Interestingly, the ß-Oslo method was developed at MSU/NSCL by MSU Department of Chemistry professor, Sean Liddick, and nuclear physicist, Artemis Spyrou, professor at FRIB and in the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the College of Natural Science, among others. This research can help explain how elements heavier than iron are made in stars.

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