Newswise — Experimental nuclear physicist Kawtar Hafidi has been named the next director of Physics Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Hafidi, who currently serves as the laboratory’s Associate Chief Scientist for Laboratory-Directed Research & Development (LDRD), has 17 years of experience in leading and conducting fundamental research at major accelerator facilities in the United States and Europe. As Associate Chief Scientist, she established transparent processes aimed at supporting Argonne’s most important scientific priorities and assuring the greatest possible return on early scientific investment.

From 2013 to 2014, Hafidi was detailed to DOE’s Office of Nuclear Physics, where she demonstrated her ability to forge strong relationships within the U.S. physics community while managing a suite of major projects devoted to achieving America’s scientific missions in physics.

“Basic science is at the core of everything we accomplish as a lab,” said Argonne Interim Director Paul Kearns. “Argonne is privileged to have Kawtar Hafidi—with her notable experience and unique insight into the way that fundamental research can drive energy breakthroughs—leading our physics division.”

“Kawtar is an accomplished researcher with a great passion for science,” said Harry Weerts, Argonne Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences and Engineering. “She brings to this role a strong vision for the future.”

As a researcher, Hafidi has focused on studying the structure of nucleons and nuclei in terms of their basic constituents, namely quarks and gluons, within the framework of the theory of strong interactions. Her work encompasses measurements of nuclear modification effects; three-dimensional imaging of nucleons and nuclei, the mechanisms of “vacuum” confinement and tests of charge symmetry violations.

Hafidi has also played a leading role in and received numerous awards for advocacy for increased diversity, both at Argonne and within the broader physics community. She is the author of more than 140 publications and has given more than 40 invited talks at international conferences, universities, and laboratories.

Argonne’s Physics Division includes more than 100 scientists, engineers, and staff dedicated to addressing challenges in fundamental low- and medium-energy physics, including mapping the structure of nuclei and analyzing rare isotopes. The division also runs the Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System (ATLAS), the world’s first superconducting linear accelerator for heavy ions.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.