James Carroll named Distinguished Professor
YSU students benefit from the success of the nuclear physics professor.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- More than 3 million in grants has come in to Youngstown State University in the last 10 years thanks to Professor James "Jeff" Carroll and his research in the field of nuclear physics.
It's the most earned by any single professor, and it's earned Carroll a Distinguished Professor honor.
More than a distinguished professor, YSU officials have hailed him "one of the most prolific researchers in the university's history."
The achievement that makes Carroll most proud, however is the small team of undergraduates that he has assembled to assist him in his 10-year quest: developing an environmentally friendly nuclear-powered compact battery.
Six to eight undergraduate YSU students have worked for Carroll on a rotating basis for the last 10 years. They spend their lab hours infiltrating the nuclei of a class of naturally radioactive atoms called isomers. Their research is funded by the Air Force's office of scientific research.
Studying matter's smallest particles is a precise undertaking. The team's research occasionally requires the use of multimillion-dollar instruments available in only a handful of locations throughout the world. As a result, Carroll's students, some as young as sophomores, have traveled to Taiwan, Russia and Germany.
"When we go to these places, these experiments are usually run by graduate students, post-docs or senior scientists," he said. "Then we show up."
They may be young, they may be from a city that doesn't typically register as a scientific hotbed, but Carroll says his research team's reputation precedes them.
"I would say, at this point, our program is known throughout the world," he said. "YSU is a player on the international scale in nuclear physics."
An Oklahoma native, Carroll joined the YSU staff 11 years ago after earning his doctorate at the University of Texas at Dallas. That YSU lacked a graduate physics program helped attract Carroll to YSU, he said. The university reminded him of his undergraduate college, the University of Central Oklahoma, he said.
"When I came to YSU, there was an opportunity to do research and an added opportunity to do research with undergraduate students," he said. "It's so rewarding to see people gain confidence in knowledge in their own abilities"
Reason for honor
Gregg Sturrus, chairman of the physics department, said he nominated Carroll for the Distinguished Professor Award because of the unusual opportunity he has provided YSU undergraduates. A total of 24 faculty members received the Distinguished Professor Award at the university's honor's convocation April 17.
"Undergrads here are getting the same experience graduate students get elsewhere," he said. "It's really pretty amazing."
Many of Carroll's young prot & eacute;g & eacute;s are already on course to bright futures in physics thanks to the lessons learned in YSU's isomer-research lab.
Two former students are pursuing doctorates in physics. One works for a laser crystal company. Another is working for a defense contractor outside Washington D.C., said Carroll.
YSU sophomore John Hoffman, 20, a new addition to the research group, hopes to continue his study of the inner workings of atoms in graduate school. His work with Carroll, he said, will be a selling point when he applies for graduate schools. Eventually, he hopes to become a professor.
"This is a great opportunity," he said. "That's something that's really nice about this university."