Kent State University physics alumnas Dr. Dekrayat Almaalol receives 2024 Leona Woods Lectureship Award

On April 11, 2024, Kent State University physics alumnas Dr. Dekrayat Almaalol received the 2024 Leona Woods Lectureship Award from Brookhaven National Laboratory.  The Leona Woods award was established in honor of renowned physicist Leona Woods to celebrate the scientific accomplishments of outstanding female physicists and physicists from other underrepresented minority groups, including the LGBQT community — and to promote diversity and inclusion in the Department.

Dr. Almaalol completed her undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Zawia in Libya in 2010. She received a government-sponsored scholarship to continue her studies in higher education, which she pursued at Kent State University, where she completed her master’s degree in 2013. In 2021, Dr. Almaalol received her Ph.D. under her advisor, professor Michael Strickland, who is currently chair of the Department of Physics at Kent State University.

Dr. Dekrayat Almaalol delivers a colloquium at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Intellectually and academically, Dr. Almaalol has always been intrigued by the field of physics.

“The power of physics is that it merges aspects of all sciences together. And it’s challenging, so you don’t ever get bored,” she said. “You’re never disconnected from the real world. Is there a more powerful research area than looking at the origins of the universe and the interactions that control the existence of matter?”

Dr. Almaalol’s research in high energy physics revolves around humanity’s fundamental questions: How does the universe around us form? What is it made of, and how did it evolve over time?  “Dr. Almaalol is a notable expert on the application of hydrodynamic simulations to describe heavy ion collision data,” said Dr. Bjoern Schenke, a distinguished scientist in Brookhaven Lab’s Physics Department, an adjunct professor of physics at Stony Brook University, and a member of the Leona Woods award committee.

Hydrodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with the motion of fluids. Dr. Schenke notes that its success in describing experimental data from heavy ion collisions has revealed that QGP behaves like a nearly "perfect fluid" that flows with virtually no resistance.  Hydrodynamics plays an important role in complex phenomenological models aimed at understanding detailed properties of the QGP, such as its viscosity, the equation of state, and how the fluid affects high momentum particles emerging from the collisions.

“Dekrayat is an expert on calculations that can reproduce experimental data from heavy ion collisions at RHIC and the LHC by treating the produced quark-gluon plasma as a droplet of ultra hot and ultra dense liquid,” said Award Committee Chair Peter Steinberg, a distinguished scientist in the Physics Department at Brookhaven Lab.  While these calculations generally work very well, their ultimate accuracy depends on developing mathematical formulas that respect fundamental physical principles, such as causality, as well as careful accounting of various types of “charges” that are conserved throughout the full evolution.  “Her expertise in this area is crucial for understanding the baryon-rich, low-energy collisions studied in recent years at RHIC,” said Steinberg. 

Dr. Almaalol will start her second postdoctoral research position at Stony Brook University when her current postdoctoral position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign concludes.




POSTED: Monday, April 22, 2024 10:17 PM
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 07:08 PM
Physics Department