Astrophysicist Michael C. Wiescher has been named an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
The foundation was established by the Federal Republic of Germany to promote international cooperation in research. This prestigious fellowship will allow Wiescher to study the nuclear reactions leading to the formation of an isotope of iron, 60Fe, which has been found in sediments on the deep-ocean floor. This isotope is thought to be and related to a supernova a few million years ago in our neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy.
Wiescher is a world-leading scientist in experimental nuclear astrophysics who has made numerous contributions to the determination of key nuclear reaction rates for the understanding of stellar evolution and the synthesis of the
elements in the universe. He is particularly well known for the use of novel techniques involving low energy ion beams in measuring nuclear reactions determining the lifetime and evolution of stars. He also pursued the use of radioactive ion beams in measuring important reactions relevant in explosive astrophysical environments. These techniques will be implemented at the future US Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory DUSEL and the Future Radioactive Ion Beam facility FRIB. For his work Professor Wiescher received several awards, including the prestigious Bethe Prize of the American Physical Society.
Wiescher is director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA), a collaboration between the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University, and the University of Chicago to address a broad range of experimental, theoretical, and observational questions in nuclear astrophysics.
JINA serves as an intellectual center with the goal enabling swift communication and stimulating collaborations across field boundaries. It also provides focus point for in the rapidly growing and diversifying field of nuclear astrophysics.
The foundation is named after Baron Alexander von Humboldt, who was a Prussian naturalist and explorer who explored much of Central and South America in the late 18th century and early 19th century.