LVC Physics Professor Awarded Second NSF Grant to Build on Student-Faculty Research

Dr. Dan Pitonyak works with student during Physics lab

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it has awarded a second grant to Dr. Daniel Pitonyak, Lebanon Valley College assistant professor of physics and co-chair of chemistry and physics. The nearly $200,000 grant ($193,628) will support his ongoing student-faculty research on theoretical nuclear physics in the College’s Neidig-Garber Science Center. This award builds on Dr. Pitonyak’s initial three-year NSF grant in August 2020.

The NSF grant will provide funding for Dr. Pitonyak’s project, Hadronic Structure from Spin Observables in pQCD, through July 31, 2026. This research aims to map out a 3-dimensional image of the internal structure of visible matter. Dr. Pitonyak’s team writes code in Python to compute high-energy particle collisions and analyze how models fit experimental data. This allows them to extract information on the elementary particles, quarks and gluons, that make up objects like the proton. The grant will support LVC students through summer research stipends and funds to travel to national conferences. In addition, students will be able to work closely with Dr. Pitonyak’s collaborators at other universities and national labs.

“I’m excited to receive again National Science Foundation funding to support student-faculty research in theoretical nuclear physics at LVC,” said Pitonyak. “This award is a testament to the high-quality research and results we produce, where students have been co-authors on peer-reviewed publications and given presentations at national conferences. I look forward to continuing to provide these impactful experiences for our students.”

In January 2023, Dr. Pitonyak was named as part of a team of scientists awarded a U.S. Department of Energy $1.95 million grant. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory announced a nearly $2 million grant to a group of researchers who are part of the SURGE (SatURated GluE) Topical Theory Collaboration. The five-year grant will enable scientists from 16 colleges, universities, and national laboratories—including Lebanon Valley College—to develop calculations and a framework for discovering and exploring a saturated state of gluons, the particles that hold together everything we see.

About Dr. Pitonyak

Dr. Pitonyak graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a double major in physics and mathematics before earning his Ph.D. at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. His dissertation, “Exploring the Structure of Hadrons through Spin Asymmetries in Hard Scattering Processes,” received the 2015 Dissertation Award from the Group on Hadronic Physics of the American Physical Society. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the RIKEN BNL Research Center at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, N.Y., Penn State University Berks in Reading, Pa., and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

Dr. Pitonyak has over 25 research publications in national and international peer-reviewed journals, including Physical Review Letters, the Journal of High-Energy Physics, Physical Review D, and Physics Letters B. His academic expertise includes atomic and nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, analytical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and quantum mechanics. At LVC, Dr. Pitonyak teaches courses ranging from General College Physics and a Connective course on The Physics of Time & Space to Atomic and Nuclear Physics and Analytical Mechanics.


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