Spotlight on new faculty: Jaquelyn Noronha-Hostler, Nuclear Physics

Jessica Raley for Illinois Physics
11/14/2019

The Department of Physics at Illinois welcomes an extraordinary set of ten new faculty members this year. Eight of them have arrived on campus and have begun setting up their labs and settling into life in Champaign-Urbana. Two more faculty are set to arrive in January. We will feature each of them here over the next couple of weeks. Check back regularly to learn more about the exciting work these new faculty members are doing.

Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler (center) works with postdoc Matthew Sievert (right) and graduate students Patrick Carzon (far left) and Travis Dore.
Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler (center) works with postdoc Matthew Sievert (right) and graduate students Patrick Carzon (far left) and Travis Dore.

Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler

Jaki Noronha-Hostler is a nuclear physicist. In her research, she does simulations of the most perfect fluid we know of–quark-gluon plasma–moving at the speed of light, and then compares the simulations directly to experimental data. This type of matter is believed to have existed 10-6 seconds after the big bang, so to study it, nuclear experimentalists create billions of “little bangs” in the laboratory. The goal of her current research is to find the location a critical point at which separates the cross-over phase transition (between a quark gluon plasma and hadrons) from a first order phase transition. This research has implications for several areas of physics, including neutron stars, which may contain a quark-gluon plasma at their core. Jaki says, “If we see a critical point, then there is a first order phase transition that could affect the dynamics of neutron star mergers.” Her work also pushes the boundaries of statistics, because new statistical tools have to be developed to analyze the data from the large number of simulations required for this research.

For more information about Jaki's work, or to inquire about joining her research group, visit her website.

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