May 5, 2014

Renowned particle physicist to join research staff at UTA

David Nygren, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has helped “unravel mysteries of dark matter and dark energy,” a UTA news release said.

A renowned scientist recognized for his innovations in particle physics research has been named presidential distinguished professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, the school announced Monday.

David Nygren, a member of the National Academy of Sciences who has been on the staff of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley since 1973, will join UT Arlington’s research team this fall.

Nygren’s work has helped “unravel mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, which make up 95 percent of the energy in the universe,” according to a UTA news release.

More than 30 years ago at the Berkeley lab, Nygren invented the “Time Projection Chamber,” or TPC, which is used for three-dimensional particle tracking and identification at major research facilities around the world, the news release stated.

At UT Arlington, Nygren plans to increase his focus on a Spain-based collaboration he helped start called Neutrino Experiment Xenon TPC. It’s “a search for an extremely rare nuclear decay that could teach us whether the neutrino is its own anti-particle,” he said.

UTA President Vistasp Karbhari said he is thrilled that Nygren is coming to Arlington.

“Dr. Nygren’s leadership in particle physics will help accelearate the work of our already outstanding high-energy physics group and will take our research to the next level,” Karbhari said.

Nygren, 75, said he is looking forward to working with students and faculty in the university’s College of Science and the College of Engineering.

“This is an excellent opportunity for me to bring decades of experience in the conception and design — and even transformation — of experimental procedures and to engage an academic community in this kind of approach to doing research,” he said in the news release.

While at the Berkeley lab, he earned the title of distinguished scientist and received the lab’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

He also is a fellow of the American Physical Society, which awarded him the Panofsky Prize, its highest honor, the news release stated.

Nygren spent a week meeting with faculty members before he was hired.

The university is also looking for new chairmen of biology, bio-engineering, computer science and psychology, Karbhari said.

Staff writer Monica S. Nagy contributed to this report.

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