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Upton Applauds National Science Foundation Grant for Western Michigan University

Washington, August 12, 2021 | Billy Fuerst (202-225-3761)
Tags: Education

SAINT JOSEPH, MICH. – Today, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, applauded a $626,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to Western Michigan University (WMU) to study the complex composition of the chemical elements, nuclear reactions in the outermost locations of the universe, and dense nuclear matter as it relates to neutron stars and supernovas. More specifically, these dollars will fund an ongoing research project entitled “Windows on the Universe: Nuclear Astrophysics Observables of Supernovae and Neutron Stars” under the direction of Dr. Zbigniew Chajecki, an associate professor of nuclear physics at WMU. 

“Time and again, WMU pushes the boundaries of what is thought to be possible. Their work on complex scientific topics and cutting-edge research expands our knowledge of the unknown and contributes to our understanding of the world – even at a microscopic level,” said Rep. Upton. “This grant will certainly help WMU continue to provide its students with a quality education and strengthen our academic and scientific competitiveness around the world. As always, I will continue to be a strong ally of our local universities in Congress and echo the need for robust federal funding so that institutions like WMU have the resources they need to break down barriers and make new, groundbreaking discoveries.”

"Many fascinating astrophysical objects like neutron stars and supernova are so far away that it is not feasible to travel to them or even send a satellite to study them in detail. One way to gain some knowledge of them is through astronomical observation. Our approach is more direct. We plan to measure some of the most exotic astrophysical environments in the cosmos by reproducing the conditions and nuclear reactions in these sites in the laboratory,” said Dr. Chajecki. “This requires us to develop and fine-tune very precise detectors, electronics and computational tools to create the demanding experiments necessary to study these sites."

A very important component of our research is the opportunity to interact, train and perform research with undergraduate and graduate students at WMU. Many of them will become future scientists and engineers or will have other STEM-related careers,” added Chajecki.

Dr. Chajecki’s research largely focuses on the equation of state of dense nuclear matter, nuclear astrophysics, and neutron stars. In addition to his current work, he recently initiated a program to study fission of exotic nucluei that he will perform at the National Student Leadership Conference and in the future at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

Upton has long supported efforts to fund groundbreaking and innovative research at universities in Southwest Michigan and across the country. In February, he helped reintroduce the bipartisan Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act that would authorize some $26 billion in federal funding to American researchers whose work was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school and laboratory closures. This funding could, among other things, enable graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and Principal Investigators to complete work that was disrupted by COVID-19, or extend the training or employment of researchers on an existing project for up to two years because of the disruption in the job market. This legislation would also keep more than 560,000 people on the payroll at American universities and help this important sector of the economy continue to thrive for decades to come. 

With a total staff of 2,100 people, the NSF supports research, innovation, and collaboration that provides the foundation for economic growth and scientific discovery in the United States. You can read more about the NSF HERE and WMU’s grant HERE.

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