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Physics Postdoc Named Finalist in Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists

Irina Petrushina

Irina Petrushina, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University, has been named a finalist in the Physical Sciences and Engineering category of the 2021 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. As one of only nine honorees selected this year, she will receive a personalized award medal and an unrestricted personal cash prize of $10,000.

Irina Petrushina
Irina Petrushina

Petrushina’s research focuses on two distinct accelerator technologies: superconducting radiofrequency photoinjectors (also known as SRF photo-guns) and Laser Wake Field Accelerators (LWFAs). While SRF photo-guns continue to be the backbone of modern accelerator technology, issues with the technology still remain. Her work on the new SRF photo-gun design dramatically improved the performance of this accelerator technology, achieving world-record brightness in the produced electron beams.

Her work on LWFAs — a new accelerator technology that uses powerful lasers and plasmas to accelerate charged particles — has been equally as impactful. She has designed and built an ultra-high resolution diagnostic tool capable of imaging the properties of electromagnetic fields produced in this type of accelerator. This new diagnostic imaging tool will prove pivotal in characterizing and improving the performance of the burgeoning LWFA technology. Her achievements are advancing fundamental high-energy physics research and could lead to the development of new inexpensive table-top devices for proton and ion radiation therapy.

Petrushina’s research is also focused on the commissioning of the Coherent electron Cooling (CeC) Proof of Principle experiment, with an emphasis on the SRF system for CeC. Her research interests include all aspects of radio frequency superconductivity for accelerators and the potential medical applications of accelerators.

“I am exceptionally excited about this news,” said Chang Kee Jung, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Stony Brook is rather unique to have accelerator physics research as part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, benefitted by the close collaboration with BNL. Irina is a rising star and role model in this critical field for scientific research and societal applications. I am super happy for her.”

“Within our region, Stony Brook is competing with some of the top research institutions in the nation. Dr. Petrushina’s finalist prize places her at the forefront of her field and as a future leader,” said Kathleen Flint Ehm, assistant dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Initiatives and director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

The 2021 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists competition received 152 nominations from 24 universities and research institutions in the tri-state area. During the comprehensive review process, a jury of some of the region’s most distinguished scientists selected one winner and two finalists in each of the three disciplinary categories recognized by the Blavatnik Awards — Chemistry, Life Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Engineering.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Blavatnik Regional Awards Ceremony has been postponed. Awardees will be recognized at the 2022 Blavatnik Regional Awards Ceremony and New York Academy of Sciences Gala, tentatively scheduled for November 14, 2022. 

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