Since joining the UConn physics department in 2013, Prof. Puckett has played a lead role in the preparation of a family of high-profile experiments in Jefferson Lab's Hall A that will use the newly constructed Super BigBite Spectrometer (SBS) to probe the quark structure of protons and neutrons with unprecedented precision and kinematic reach. Prior to joining the UConn faculty, Prof. Puckett earned his B. S. in Physics with “highest distinction” from the University of Virginia in 2004, and his Ph. D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009, and was awarded the 2009 annual SURA/JSA Thesis Prize for the best doctoral thesis completed that year on research conducted at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility or Jefferson Lab (JLab). Prof. Puckett held the prestigious Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 2009-2011, where he played a leading role in the analysis and publication of results from several experiments in Jefferson Lab’s Hall A studying the three-dimensional spin and momentum dependence of the neutron’s quark structure. During his LANL Director’s fellowship, Prof. Puckett led the development of a new proposal for high-precision neutron transverse spin structure measurements in Hall A, which was approved for 64 beam-days and assigned an “A-“ scientific rating by the JLab Program Advisory Committee at its 38th meeting in 2011. From 2012-2013 he was a staff scientist in Jefferson Lab’s Hall B Group, where his primary responsibility was the construction of the High Threshold Cherenkov Counter, a key component of the new CLAS12 detector.
Professor Puckett is the author or co-author of more than 70 peer-reviewed publications since 2007, in journals such as Physical Review, Nature, and Science.
My primary research interest is the precision study of the quark-gluon structure of nucleons (protons, neutrons) and nuclei. The tool of choice for this research is the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Jefferson Lab (JLab). The recently completed JLab 12 GeV Upgrade increased the maximum energy of CEBAF from 6 GeV to 11 GeV for electron beam experiments, marking a significant expansion of its physics reach. The energy upgrade of CEBAF augments its already unrivaled intensity, polarization and duty factor performance to make it the world’s most powerful microscope for the imaging of the atomic nucleus. The ultimate goal of the experiments is to reveal how the rich and complicated structure of matter emerges from the strong interactions among its elementary quark and gluon constituents, described theoretically by Quantum Chromodynamics.
The dominant emphasis of my current research is a family of five experiments in JLab’s Hall A, representing approximately 210 beam-days approved by the JLab Program Advisory Committee (PAC), known as the Super BigBite Spectrometer (SBS) program. The SBS is a novel magnetic spectrometer, currently under construction by a core collaboration of about thirty physicists representing approximately 15 institutions within the broader Hall A collaboration of over 100 physicists from more than 70 institutions. The SBS is capable of operating with large solid-angle and momentum acceptance at forward angles at the highest luminosities of the upgraded CEBAF. This capability is enabled in large part by the recent high-rate tracking technology of Gas Electron Multipliers (GEMs). The currently approved SBS experiments include:
- E12-07-109: Polarization transfer in elastic electron-proton scattering up to Q2=12 GeV2. 45 PAC days, "A-" scientific rating. Professor Puckett is a co-spokesperson.
- Jeopardy proposal update to JLab PAC47, re-approved without changes.
- E12-09-016: Neutron electric form factor to Q2=10.2 GeV2. 50 PAC days, "A-" scientific rating.
- E12-09-018: Semi-Inclusive Deep-Inelastic Scattering on a transversely polarized Helium-3 target. 64 PAC days, "A-" scientific rating. Professor Puckett is a co-spokesperson
- E12-09-019: Neutron magnetic form factor to Q2=13.5 GeV2. 25 PAC days, "B+" scientific rating.
- E12-17-004: Neutron electric form factor to Q2=4.5 GeV2 by recoil polarization. 5 PAC days, "A-" scientific rating.
- C12-15-006: Pion structure function via tagged deep-inelastic scattering. 27 PAC days ("C1" conditionally approved), "A-" scientific rating.
The responsibilities of my research group in the SBS collaboration include the preparation of a Ring-Imaging Cherenkov (RICH) detector that will be used for charged particle identification in two of the five experiments and the development of Monte Carlo simulations, event reconstruction and data analysis software for all five experiments. The precision studies of nucleon structure embodied by the SBS program are only possible at CEBAF and carry significant potential for the discovery of new effects and phenomena in nuclear and hadronic physics. The first SBS experiment to run will be the neutron magnetic form factor measurement (E12-09-019; aka "GMN"). The GMN collaboration passed JLab's experimental readiness review process in 2017, allowing E12-09-019 to be tentatively scheduled for beam in 2020. Professor Puckett’s research is supported by the US Department of Energy Office of Science (Early Career Research Program), the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, and the University of Connecticut.