Assistant professor gets DOE's 'Outstanding Junior Investigator Award'

Anna Stasto, assistant professor of physics at Penn State, is the recipient of one of the three Outstanding Junior Investigator (OJI) awards in the field of nuclear physics presented by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this year. These highly competitive awards are intended to recognize scientific achievement in the fields of particle and nuclear physics and to identify and support the development of faculty members during the early years of their careers. The Outstanding Junior Investigator Award will help to support Stasto's research for three years.

In March, Stasto also received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in recognition of her work as a young scientist engaged in cutting-edge research. She is one of two faculty members in the Department of Physics at Penn State to recently achieve the honor of being awarded both a DOE OJI award and a Sloan Research Fellowship. Radu Roiban also was awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship in 2007, and a DOE OJI award in 2008. Commenting on this rare achievement, Jayanth Banavar, head of the Department of Physics at Penn State said, "We are delighted that Anna Stasto and Radu Roiban are both recipients of this dual award."

Stasto studies particle physics, focusing in particular on the theory of strong interactions and on astroparticle and neutrino physics. She is especially interested in investigating the high-energy limit of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), where new phenomena related to the large densities of quarks and gluons are expected to be observed. In the past, she conducted research related to the so-called deep-inelastic scattering of electrons on protons, a process that was investigated experimentally at the Hadron Electron Ring Accelerator (HERA) collider in Germany. The results of her theoretical analyses have been applied successfully to a variety of subjects, including structure-function studies of protons, the production of heavy quarks and the production of jets of particles. She also has studied the mechanisms of the production of neutrinos, which are very light  particles with no  charge, and she has investigated the propagation of neutrinos through the Earth.

In the near future, Stasto plans to focus her research program on theoretical descriptions of the processes that will take place at the Large Hadron Collider, a new particle accelerator located on the border between France and Switzerland. More information is on the Web at http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Stasto9-2009.htm online.

Prior to joining Penn State as an assistant professor in 2008, Stasto was a research associate at Penn State from 2006 to 2008. She was a research associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 2004 to 2006, and she was a postdoctoral fellow at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany. Stasto earned a master's degree in physics at the Jagiellonian University in Poland in 1996 and a joint doctorate in theoretical physics at the Polish Academy of Science and the University of Durham in the United Kingdom in 1999. She received a habilitation degree in theoretical physics from the Polish Academy of Science in 2005.

Contact Anna Stasto at 814-865-7976, or astasto@phys.psu.edu; or contact Barbara Kennedy, PIO, at 814-863-4682, or science@psu.edu. For high-resolution images related to this story, visit http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Stasto9-2009.htm online.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010