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Physics department receives government grant for energy research

Nov. 9, 2005

By DENISE HODGES, reporter

The United States Department of Energy awarded the Baylor physics department a three-year, $360,000 grant for research in high-energy physics last month.

"It's terrific for us because it expands the research we can do in the physics department," said Dr. Jay Dittmann, assistant professor of physics.

"It provides many opportunities for students to get involved in research," he said.

Professors within the department submitted a proposal titled "Elementary Particle Physics at Baylor" to the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation outlining research plans in high-energy physics. The Department of Energy approved the plans and awarded the grant.

"What we're trying to do is improve the quality of the department in terms of research we can do and the students we can attract," said Dr. Scott Yost, associate professor in physics.

Yost said it's rare for a university to be so committed to improving the science department, but Baylor is.

"Just look at the new science building. It's obvious," Yost said.

Dittmann, Yost and Dr. B.F.L. Ward, physics department chairman and distinguished professor, came to Baylor in 2003 because of Baylor 2012.

Ward said the goal of the department is to reach top-tier status and to use external funding for research programs.

The research funded by this grant will encompass a theory task and an experimental task.

Dittmann said the theory task makes predictions about the fundamental forces and properties of particles.

The experimental task will measure the fundamental forces of nature and discover the properties of the tiniest particles in the universe.

"The idea is to probe the limits of the known theory of elementary particle physics," Ward said.

Yost offers a more simplistic view of the research.

"We want to understand how the universe works at a basic level," Yost said. "The more you understand, the more you can find to exploit from it."