Dr. Phillip Cole secures over $300,000 in grant funding

Dr. Phillip Cole, Chair and Professor of Physics, has been awarded over $300,000 in grant funding to probe the structure of nucleons (protons and neutrons) and to engage undergraduate students in nuclear physics research.  

The award comes from the National Science Foundation under their Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) initiative which supports the integration of research and undergraduate education.

Dr. Phillip Cole Headshot

Dr. Cole will build upon research conducted at the Electron Stretcher Accelerator (ELSA) at the University of Bonn in Germany, the Thomas Jefferson National Acceleratory Facility (TJNAF) in the United States, and the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC). 

"We have three Lamar students who have been working this entire summer onsite at TJNAF. They have been having a lot of fun and are learning how to build next generation detectors. With this grant we have opened even more opportunities for nuclear physics projects in Germany and Japan,” Cole said. 

This study will utilize beams of pions – linearly polarized photons – and longitudinally polarized electrons at nuclear physics labs around the world to understand the emergent behavior of quarks and gluons that comprise the building blocks of nucleons.      

“Understanding just how the structure of protons emerge from the assembly of quarks and gluon is one of the greatest intellectual challenges facing science,” Cole said. “We have so many unanswered questions on what makes a proton a proton. We are on that tantalizing verge of understanding the makeup of nucleons through our transpacific and transatlantic collaborations in Germany, Japan, and the U.S.”    

Dr. Cole’s team seeks to answer fundamental questions about the behaviors of the most elementary particles that make up our physical world, leading the way in unraveling more mysteries of the universe. 

“The work has important implications on how matter forms in the observable universe through a better understanding of the physical world in the smallest scales of time and dimension,” Associate Provost for Research & Sponsored Programs Dr. Jerry Lin said. “Through this grant, Lamar’s students will be exposed to state-of-the-art research infrastructures while studying alongside some of the most prominent nuclear physicists in the world. Dr. Cole’s continued success in funded fundamental research is phenomenal.” 

Dr. Cole earned his PhD in Nuclear Physics from Purdue University and his bachelor's in physics from Cornell University.  He joined Lamar University as Chair of the Physics department in 2017. He has garnered numerous awards through his publications and is a world-renowned expert in the study of nuclear physics. 

To learn more about Dr. Cole or the Department of Physics, visit https://www.lamar.edu/arts-sciences/physics/