Research programs at the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Robert A. Welch Foundation.


Dr. Sherry J. Yennello, Regents Professor of Chemistry and holder of the Nuclear Science Chair at Texas A&M University, has been appointed as director of the Cyclotron Institute, which serves as the core of Texas A&M's nuclear science program and as a major technical and educational resource for Texas and the nation.

Yennello, an internationally renowned nuclear chemist and expert in heavy-ion reactions as well as longtime associate dean for faculty affairs in the College of Science, recently replaced Robert E. Tribble as head of the Cyclotron Institute. Tribble, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M, stepped down after more than 11 years as director to accept a primary appointment as the deputy director for science and technology at another U.S. Department of Energy-funded facility, Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"We are indeed fortunate to have a person of Dr. Yennello's knowledge and experience taking over as director," said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science. "She is widely known nationally in this area and has broad local, national and international experience in leading important organizations."

Dedicated in 1967, the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute conducts nuclear physics- and chemistry-based research and radiation testing as part of an internationally recognized interdisciplinary program featuring faculty members from both the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Chemistry. The facility is one of five designated Centers of Excellence by the DOE, which helped to finance its construction and pays a substantial amount of the operating costs in conjunction with the State of Texas. The institute is home to a K500 superconducting cyclotron, one of only four such university-based accelerators in the world.

In addition to educating students in accelerator-based science and technology, the institute brings in more than $4 million annually in external research grants. Testing by companies and agencies (including Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Navy Laboratories) that rent time on the cyclotron for their own research projects brings in an additional $2 million annually, generating a total of nearly $6.5 million in overall external funding each year.

Yennello joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1993 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State University (1991-92) and earning her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1990. Her research on the nuclear equation-of-state impacts such fundamental questions as, "What is the origin of the elements?" and "How are neutron-rich and heavy nuclei synthesized in the core of a star during stellar evolution?" In addition, her pioneering example as an instructor, research scientist, administrator, and mentor to faculty and students -- particularly women and minorities -- is equally respected at Texas A&M and in national and international professional circles.

She assumes her leadership role at a pivotal time for both the institute and the overall field of nuclear science. Thanks to a recent upgrade project funded in tandem by the DOE and the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the institute has re-commissioned its original 88-inch K150 cyclotron, which can be coupled with the K500 cyclotron to produce accelerated radioactive ion beams (RIBs). The powerful combination enables researchers to study the elements of stars and to obtain important information about rates of nuclear reactions that occur in stellar explosions, such as supernovae and X-ray bursts.

"The Cyclotron Institute at Texas A&M University today is a unique treasure, carefully crafted over the years by many extraordinary people," Yennello said. "The faculty, staff and students -- past and present -- all have contributed to making the Cyclotron a world-class research institute. I am honored to be trusted with its leadership as the institute approaches the milestone of 50 years of beam on target."

Beyond her nuclear chemistry research program, Yennello serves as principal investigator for four major National Science Foundation grants -- including Texas A&M's $3.5 million ADVANCE Center for Women Faculty -- totaling more than $5.5 million in funding to benefit STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and outreach. In addition to being involved in career research projects exceeding $8.5 million, she was architect and co-chair of an NSF-funded Gender Equity Conversation effort as well as longtime chair of the College of Science Diversity Committee.

A University Faculty Fellow, Yennello also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012), the American Chemical Society (2011) and the American Physical Society (2005). Her many awards include the ACS's Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal (2011), the Texas A&M Women's Faculty Network Outstanding Mentor Award (2010), the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at both the university and college levels (2012 and 2008, respectively), the Sigma Xi National Young Investigator Award (2000), the NSF Young Investigator Award (1994), the Oak Ridge Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (1993) and the General Electric Faculty for the Future Award (1993).

To learn more about Yennello and her research at Texas A&M, go to http://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/yennello.

For more on the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute, visit http://cyclotron.tamu.edu.

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About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents annual expenditures of more than $820 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@tamu.edu or Dr. Sherry J. Yennello, (979) 845-1411 or yennello@comp.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Sherry J. Yennello

  • K500 Cyclotron

    The institute's current mainstay, the K500 superconducting cyclotron, is one of only five worldwide and the heart of a nuclear science research program that generates nearly $6.5 million annually in external funding.

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