Dr Sandra Biedron, a Research Professor at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Consortium (NMC) scientist, recently was highlighted in an article in The Innovation Platform titled, The power of research infrastructures – discovery and the human facet.
This article discusses Dr. Biedron, her background and research interests, as well as particle accelerators, research infrastructures and their important role in discovery.
Particle accelerators, and the research infrastructures behind them, have never been as valuable as they are today. They can be applied to various problems, but most recently they have been extremely valuable in studying COVID-19 pandemic and as a tool in the medical field. For example, the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory has been used to analyze the SARS-CoV-2 S protein to enhance our understanding of the COVID-19 virus.
Dr Sandra Biedron is well known in the world of particle accelerators. As a physicist, she worked at Argonne National Laboratory from 1993-2011, and from 2005 to 2011, was an Associate Director of the Argonne Accelerator Institute and a Senior Physicist and Director of the Department of Defense Project Office. Dr Biedron currently works as a Research Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Mexico. She is a managerial member of technological company Element Aero, and she now currently a NMC affiliated scientist as well.
Dr. Biedron shares five examples of recent research and development that leverage a variety of research infrastructures. There are five unique genres of machines for the five following applications: x-ray free-electron lasers (FELs), electron diffraction, particle physics, radiation testing, and quantum information science.
In one example she speaks of her work operating a MeV Ultrafast Electron Diffraction (MUED) facility globally. One of her key focuses is in the operation of the particle accelerator and the ‘user side’ of the machine as one entire system. She hopes this system will become fully automated in the future.
This MUED system is a DOE Office of Science’s User Facility – the Accelerator Test Facility (ATF) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Dr. Biedron and her colleagues are working to understand the diffraction patterns in real-time alongside trying to interpret their structure. To do so, they must use techniques involving Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), which are enabled by computational resources such as coupling to a second research infrastructure – the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) at Argonne National Laboratory.
In this article Dr. Biedron speaks of some of the many applications for accelerators. There are more than 30,000 particle accelerators around the world. These are used for applications such as discovery science, security and defense, energy and the environment, medical, industrial, and even archeology and anthropology, and more.