Brookhaven lab appoints new head of nuclear and particle physics directorate

Haiyan Gao, nuclear physicist and professor, will join the lab as associate lab director for nuclear and particle physics

UPTON, NY – Haiyan Gao, currently the Henry W. Newson Professor Emeritus of Physics at Duke University, will join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory as Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for Nuclear Physics and particles (NPP) from or around June 1, 2021.

Gao, who has a long background in nuclear physics, will help develop Brookhaven’s collective long-term vision for the next 10 years. She will also work throughout the lab and beyond to develop her emerging expertise at the future Electron-Ion Collider (EIC), a one-of-a-kind nuclear physics research facility to be built at the lab over the next decade after Brookhaven’s flagship nuclear physics facility, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, completes its research mission.

“The Nuclear and Particle Physics Branch is internationally well-known in the fields of accelerator science, high-energy physics and nuclear physics,” Gao said. “I am very excited about the opportunity and the impact that I will be able to have in collaboration with many people at the Lab.”

Gao will replace ALD Deputy for High Energy Physics Dmitri Denisov, who became interim NPP ALD after Berndt Mueller left office last year to return to teaching and research full-time at Duke.

“We are delighted to welcome Haiyan to Brookhaven at such an exciting time for nuclear and particle physics,” said Doon Gibbs, Brookhaven Laboratory Director. “His perspective and experience will be instrumental in advancing science here in the lab and beyond.”

Gao joins Brookhaven Lab as he develops the EIC in collaboration with scientists at the DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. The EIC will offer scientists a deeper look at the building blocks of visible matter and the most powerful force in nature.

“What’s important in the end is that we really deliver the science,” she said.

The facility is one that the nuclear physics community has been campaigning for for many years, to work towards a more complete understanding of nucleons and atomic nuclei in quantum chromodynamics, the physical theory that describes strong interactions, Gao noted. . It will also allow scientists to discover new physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, Gao said.

“This facility also gives us a wonderful opportunity to train a highly motivated scientific and technical workforce in this country,” she added.

In addition to his expertise in nuclear physics, Gao has a keen interest in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in science.

Gao obtained his doctorate. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1994. Since then, she has held several positions in the field, including as assistant physicist at Argonne National Laboratory and assistant and associate professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While at Duke, Gao also served as the Founding Professor of Physics and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China, where she spent some of her childhood years.

Gao’s research interests at Duke have included the structure of the nucleon, the search for exotic states of quantum chromodynamics, fundamental studies of low-energy symmetry to search for new physics beyond the standard model of electroweak interactions, and the development of polarized targets.

She was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2007 and won the U.S. Department of Energy’s Best Junior Researcher Award in 2000.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic physical science research in the United States and works to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

Follow @BrookhavenLab on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

Comments are closed.