Nathan Cooper - Obiturary
Nathan Cooper (1984-2019) joined the Nuclear Science Lab in 2017 as a postdoctoral researcher working on gamma-ray strength functions and spin distribution models for heavy nuclei. He received a Bachelor’s degree from in both physics and mathematics from Northern Illinois University and continued his education as a graduate student at Yale University. Under the supervision of Volker Werner, Nathan worked on experimental efforts to extract gamma-ray functions from a variety of experiments. He earned his PhD from Yale in 2015 with a thesis titled “Structure of A = 76 Nuclei and Fast-Timing Studies of the Rare-Earth Region”. His thesis was the last of Yale PhD theses to come out of Yale’s tandem accelerator at the Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory.
After graduation, he moved to Richmond, VA to join the group of late Prof. Con Beausang, to continue research in nuclear structure. At University of Richmond, Nathan worked on developing computational codes that model the spin distribution of states populated via compound nuclear reactions and that simulate gamma-ray cascades that follow a deexcitation of a compound nucleus. His work focused on providing experimental constraints for the surrogate method for determining neutron capture cross sections.
He continued his work at Notre Dame working with Prof. Anna Simon’s group. Nathan utilized his codes to the experimental data from the Hyperion array at Texas A&M and provided a novel approach for the analysis that allowed for extraction of the spin distribution from the particle-gamma coincidence data.
Alongside with research, Nathan was passionate about science education and outreach. Both at Richmond and at Notre Dame, he was involved in a variety of outreach programs and frequently volunteered as a physics and mathematics tutor.
Nathan passed away in his home in Mishawaka, IN on October 3rd, 2019.