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Ph.D. candidate Zack Bruce Hall II is one of 44 awardees of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program, which will allow him research opportunities at the DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Closeup of Zack Hall
Zack Bruce Hall II

Zack Bruce Hall II is the sixth UNC-Chapel Hill student to win a U.S. DOE SCGSR award since the program’s founding in 2014. The goal of SCGSR is to prepare graduate students for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission by providing graduate thesis research opportunities through extended residency at DOE national laboratories. A total of 44 awardees from 36 different U.S. universities have been awarded this opportunity.

Hall’s research at UNC-Chapel Hill, conducted in Amy Nicholson’s research group in the department of physics and astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, seeks to understand how strongly interacting elementary particles like quarks and gluons give rise to the low-energy properties of composite matter such as hadrons and nuclei that are observed in nature. The research group uses a computational method called Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) to calculate these interactions and it serves to connect theory with experimental results.

The research projects proposed by new SCGSR awardees demonstrate strong alignment with the priority mission areas of DOE Office of Science that have a high need for workforce development. Graduate students will conduct part of their graduate thesis research in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist. Hall will work with André Walker-Loud to conduct research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for a 12-month period starting January of 2023.

“I’m grateful to have been selected for this award and excited to work with and learn from leading experts in the field, including my collaborators at Berkeley Lab,” Hall says. “I’m hoping this will expand my professional network and help me learn of possible postdoctoral research opportunities in my field.”

The SCGSR research projects are expected to advance the graduate awardee’s overall doctoral thesis while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories and facilities.

“The Department of Energy is committed to growing the American science and technology workforce. SCGSRs are one way we contribute to nurturing the incredible talent and curiosity in students from all walks of life to meet the great scientific challenges of the world,” says Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Director of the DOE Office of Science. “I know the future is bright for these students, and I’m honored that the Department of Energy can be a part of their stories.”

By Carleigh Gabryel, UNC Research

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