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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Cyclotron Institute celebrates 50th anniversary

Professor+Remco+Zegers+from+Michigan+state+discusses+nuclear+astrophysics+during+the+Cyclotron+Institute+50th+Symposium+and+Celebration.
Photo by Photo by Kevin Chou

Professor Remco Zegers from Michigan state discusses nuclear astrophysics during the Cyclotron Institute 50th Symposium and Celebration.

One of the sparks that spurred Texas A&M forward into becoming a research university was the installment of the Cyclotron Institute, according to Cyclotron Institute director Sherry Yennello. The institute is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Beginning on Nov. 15 and running until Nov. 17, A&M is hosting a symposium to celebrate this milestone for the Cyclotron Institute. The symposium consists of several events lasting all day, including various oral presentations, a poster session along with tours of the Cyclotron Institute, a recognition session and a banquet. All scientific sessions are held at the Hawking Auditorium of the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy.
A cyclotron is a machine that will accelerate charged particles to very high speeds that are fractions of the speed of light, according to Yennello.
“All of the research that goes on at the Cyclotron Institute uses these beams from the cyclotron,” Yennello said. “So the cyclotron is the machine that generates the beams that then we take and do an experiment with. And then we have lots of very sophisticated equipment that will detect the results of our reactions and stuff like that. So there’s a lot of other things with the institute, but the cyclotron is the heart of it all.”
The cyclotron’s installment was what the university needed to have a significant research presence, which then university president Earl Rudder had as a priority, according to Yennello.
“Part of that was also looking for opportunities to actually have a research, have a real big research presence,” Yennello said. “It meshed well with the state’s wanting to and Gov. Connelly at the time wanting to have excellence in the universities in terms of research and the Welch Foundation which actually kind of prompted the whole thing.”
There will be a recognition session to recognize the founding partners who helped make the installment of the cyclotron at A&M possible. Three major groups will be recognized: The Welch Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization, the Department of Energy, formerly known as the Atomic Energy Commission and the state of Texas itself.
In addition, there will be multiple high-level representatives at the recognition session including University President Michael Young, Karen Butler-Purry, interim vice president for research and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, Col. John Teague on behalf of his father and four of the previous directors of the Cyclotron Institute.
“That all came together to fund the building of the cyclotron, which then was a major pillar in the university transformation from the agricultural and mechanical college into what is now a major research institute,” Yennello said. “Right there it was help the university do that pivot and so that’s what we’re celebrating.”
In addition to the recognition session, there will also be multiple oral presentations. Four former directors of the Cyclotron Institute will be in attendance, including Robert Tribble, former director between 2003 and 2014, who will be giving a presentation Thursday on the history of the institute during the years he was director.
Many people from all of the world who have had a form of involvement in the Cyclotron Institute, whether it be Romania, China or Japan, are coming back for this three day symposium to celebrate the anniversary of the cyclotron, according to Tribble.
“That’s brought people from all over the world to College Station because the impact has been worldwide,” Tribble said. “So we have had scientists, students and postdocs who have worked at the cyclotron and then gone on to other positions in many many countries across the globe. Many in Europe, certainly Japan, China and Asia, we’ve had people in Canada we’ve had connections with Mexico. So it’s a very international community that does nuclear physics.”
The impact the Cyclotron Institute has had on people involved with it has been both worldwide and locally at A&M, Tribble said.
“I think it’s been the culmination of my career here,” Tribble said. “And it’s been really a pleasure to see that the work we’ve done has had the impact around the globe that it has had. What is it, that imitation is the best form of flattery.”
The influence the institute has had goes beyond academic prestige, according to Andrew Zarrella, nuclear chemistry doctoral candidate. Zarrella said the institute has provided him with various skill applications.
“I’m getting close to graduating and the job searching that I’ve done so far, It’s become really clear that the people the cyclotron produces have skill sets that really don’t exist elsewhere,” Zarrella said. It’s been really a great experience and eye-opening now kind of trying to see what the rest of the world looks for now as an employee. It’s pretty clear that the cyclotron and what I’ve done here has really prepared me for all that I have coming up.”

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