North Carolina Central University has joined Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State Universities as a full partner of the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory. The lab, called TUNL (like, "tunnel") for short, is one of four Department of Energy Centers of Excellence for nuclear physics in the country.
NCCU is the first Historically Black College or University to join TUNL. Physics Professor Mohammed Ahmed said there are large racial and gender disparities in the STEM workforce, and joining TUNL will help them push the boundaries of science.
"Bringing NCCU, an HBCU, to the consortium will provide us an infrastructure through which the minorities, especially women and African Americans, could be trained alongside masters of the field and prominent figures of the field in nuclear physics," he said.
Ahmed said his colleagues have conducted research at TUNL for about 25 years, but that now, NCCU will be able to claim access to all the infrastructure at the prestigious lab.
"Also, it helps us recruit better students, more competitive students, and also helps us go after more funding sources, now that we're part of a big research consortium," he said.
NCCU has already contributed to technology the Department of Homeland Security has used to detect nuclear material, Ahmed said.