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Friday, Dec. 1
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

IU physicist receives highest NSF award for junior faculty

Not much is known about the way particles behaved in the primordial soup that occupied the universe in the moments following the Big Bang, but a physicist at IU has been looking for answers.

Now, he has received recognition for his work.

IU theoretical nuclear physicist Jinfeng Liao will receive an award of $440,000 from the National Science Foundation.

The CAREER Award is the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty.
Liao’s funding will go toward continuing his research about new states of matter in extreme conditions.

Liao creates these extremes through ion collisions that produce temperatures as high as 4 trillion degrees Celsius, which is 250,000 times hotter than the sun.

These collisions provide, to some extent, a miniature recreation of the Big Bang.

“You could say I study little bangs,” Liao said in a press release Tuesday.

Liao came to IU in 2011 after working as a research associate at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Today, he is also a RIKEN physicist at Brookhaven.

Liao said the interactions of quark-gluon matter, a state described in quantum chromodynamics theory in which the universe is thought to have existed after the Big
Bang, are relatively unexplored and lack deep understanding.

He said he aims to create valuable descriptions of this matter both in and out of equilibrium.

This research could have a profound affect on many areas of physics, including condensed matter physics, string theories, supersymmetric theories, compact stars, supernova and cosmology, Liao said. 

Anna Hyzy

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