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January 25, 2013
By John Trent
The world of high-energy density plasmas will have its attention focused squarely on the University of Nevada, Reno on April 2-5 when researchers and students from around the globe will convene at International Workshop on Radiation from High Density Plasmas.
The event, which will be held at South Lake Tahoe, is hosted by the University, the College of Science, the Department of Physics and is being organized by University physics research professor Alla Safronova.
It's no coincidence that the event is being held in the Reno-Tahoe area, and is being organized by Safronova, one of the University's most accomplished physics researchers.
Safronova's research in high energy density plasmas and in other X-ray plasma spectroscopy areas has led to more than $3.3 million in research grants. She was recently awarded $1.8 million in Department of Energy funding.
Safronova has mentored several students who have gone on to scientific staff positions at national and federal laboratories, including Sandia National Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory, as well as numerous research universities.
The International Workshop, organized with the National Research Laboratory and a biannual event first held in 2011, is an opportunity to showcase advances made in high-energy density plasma research, to highlight the research strength the University currently has in the field, and, perhaps just as importantly, to give student researchers an opportunity to network and make connections with representatives from national laboratories.
"There will be a lot of people from the national labs at this event, and our students will be there, as well," said Safronova, who has been a member of the Department of Physics since 1994. "This is a very good recruiting point. It will help these students make connections, which will help them get to the national labs."
The first workshop in 2011 drew 63 participants, about a third of which were students. Safronova said she is hopeful this year's event will draw 80 participants, again with about one-third students, and will serve to further reaffirm the University's strong reputation in radiation form high-density plasmas research.
The workshop's subject is considered one of the emerging and increasingly vital links in physics research, as it combines aspects of radiation, atomic and plasma physics.
To illustrate how prominent a role the University is playing in the field, Safronova pointed to the 2012 "Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Annual" publication created by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. In an overview on High Energy Density Physics, which highlighted many of the key individuals and institutions making promising findings, photos of University students and members of professor Victor Kantsyrev's research group were featured. In addition, stories of Safronova and Kantsyrev's research, as well as a write-up on the 2011 International Workshop, were included.
The April workshop will help bring an even more intense focus to the University's work and could lead to even more productive partnerships between the University and the national laboratories, Safronova said.
"It helps establish a closer sense of collaboration between the national labs and the University," Safronova said. "This is why this event is so good. It helps establish connections, and highlights our university in light of this program. It gives our university good recognition."
Safronova's recent research projects have included finding more efficient x-ray radiators from Z-pinch plasmas produced on the Zebra generator at the Nevada Terawatt Facility, a laboratory complex located in Stead that is home to the nation's largest university laser and pulsed-power accelerator combination.
"We want to bring more attention to high-energy density plasma science, and this is one of way of doing it," Safronova said of the work involved in organizing the April workshop. The workshop will include attendees from England, Israel, France and Russia. "These are big topics, and they are important topics."
Thanks to the University's reputation in areas such as high-energy density plasmas, more students who are graduating are finding their way to national labs, Safronova said.
"We have very good students," said Safronova, who recalled receiving much smaller research grants more than a decade ago to help fund student research positions. Over the past few years, she and Kantsyrev's team has grown to as many as 10 graduate and undergraduate researchers. "Overall, our students do well (in finding positions at the national and federal laboratories). It's good for them, and for the University, when they succeed and move on to careers in a research field."
The framework of the event will consist of invited and contributed oral presentations, a poster session and several discussion sessions.
One other thing should work in the International Workshop's favor, Safronova said, noting the recent wet winter.
"There should still be skiing at Tahoe in April," she said with a smile.
View the Promotional poster for the workshop.