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Sherry Yennello (she, her)

Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute Director

Regents Professor of Chemistry

Ph.D., Indiana University, Nuclear Chemistry, November 1990

B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Physics, May 1986

B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Chemistry, December 1985


Accelerator produced isotopes for medical applications – particularly the production, purification and application of alpha emitting isotopes for targeted alpha therapy. Involved in producing astatine-211 at the Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute, and is interested in developing production capability of other interesting radioisotopes using heavy ions.

Accelerator based heavy-ion reactions to study the dynamics and thermodynamics of excited nuclear matter and elucidate the nuclear equation of state – particularly the density dependence of the symmetry term – which has implications for the formation of elements and other astrophysical processes.


Equity and access to education and professional advancement for all, including both creating opportunities and motivating students to take advantage of opportunities that are available. Interests include motivating the current stakeholders to be agents of change.


Lauren McIntosh

Executive Director of TREND

Assistant Research Scientist at Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute

McIntosh facilitates collaboration between institutions and manages activities and meetings for the program. She manages a couple of workforce development collaborations and works closely with the Cyclotron Institute REU program. McIntosh is involved in producing astatine-211 at the Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute, and is interested in developing production capability of other interesting radioisotopes using heavy ions. Her graduate work in Chemistry at Texas A&M University was focused on nuclear reactions.


Justin Mabiala

Lecturer of Physics at Prairie View A&M University

Dr. Mabiala is a lecturer of Physics at Prairie View A&M University. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2004 at the Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) where he received his Bachelor of Science in Physics. In 2007, he was accepted at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in South Africa where he completed his postgraduate diploma in Mathematical Sciences and then joined the Department of Physics at Stellenbosch University the same year for his doctoral studies. There he studied under Prof. A.A. Cowley as part of the nuclear physics group affiliated to the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences (LABS). After receiving his PhD in experimental nuclear physics in 2010, he spent one year as a joint postdoctoral fellow between Stellenbosch University and iThemba LABS. In 2011, he joined the Yennello Research Group at the Texas A&M University cyclotron institute for a postdoctoral research associate position where he spent three years and from 2014 to 2016 he worked at the INFN - Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro (Italy) as a postdosctoral researcher. Dr. Mabiala joined the Chemistry and Physics department at Prairie View A&M University since 2017. His research focuses in Fermi-energy heavy-ion collisions, investigation of the nuclear phase transition, and the studies of nuclear structure of the nuclei.


Larry W. May (he/him)

Physics Lecturer at Texas A&M University


Research interests include Fermi energy heavy-ion collisions and reactions with emphasis on nuclear equation of state and asymmetry energy parameterization. Computational chemistry and physics specifically for building educational simulations to facilitate undergraduate student learning. Also interested in physics education research, pedagogy and undergraduate research projects in order to provide a better understanding of physics principles to a broader and more diverse student population.


José Leo Bañuelos

Associate Professor of Physics at The University of Texas at El Paso


José Leo Bañuelos obtained his PhD in Physics in 2010 from New Mexico State University. His interdisciplinary interests span the fields of biophysics, energy storage and conversion, and geoscience, with a significant interest in instrumentation development for probing materials’ properties as they are subjected to various external stimuli. Through his experiences as a postdoctoral researcher in the geochemistry group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), he used several neutron scattering facilities at three different national laboratories. As a neutron instrument scientist at the ISIS Neutron & Muon Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in southwest England, he helped commission a new neutron instrument called Larmor. Consequently, his experience with nuclear physics research is shaped by his need to understand the conditions that give rise to certain energetic particles resulting from nuclear reactions, and how these reaction products must be tuned to provide the necessary spectral properties of the radiation beams used in the materials characterization instruments he has used and developed. In his academic adventures at The University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Bañuelos’ focus areas include understanding the structural and dynamic properties of molecules at nanoscale fluid-solid interfaces in the areas mentioned above using x-ray and neutron-based techniques. He has mentored ~50 students since arriving at UTEP, and has led efforts to promote student-led, project-based learning, including bringing authentic research projects to the classroom.


Jorge Munoz

Assistant Professor of Physics at The University of Texas at El Paso

Jorge Munoz studies how atomic vibrations and their interactions with the electronic structure, magnetism, etc. affect the thermodynamic stability of the materials they form. In his research he uses techniques that require specific isotopes, like Fe-57 and B-11, to probe atomic vibrations. The Munoz group has expertise in machine learning and data science and collaborates with domain experts in other fields, including in nuclear physics, helping in the development of machine learning models and pipelines for efficient data reduction and analysis. Jorge strongly believes that undergraduate research and effective mentoring are critical to achieve the educational and professional goals of students. As such, he is committed to create and provide these opportunities to students at UTEP and elsewhere.



Njeri Edwards

Undergraduate Student at Prairie View A&M University, Chemistry

Research Interests

I am Njeri Edwards, a Prairie View A&M University junior majoring in chemistry. I have been part of the TREND program for a year doing research on Radioisotope production. Originally working as a student assistant for the school’s physics department, I was presented with the opportunity to participate in the TREND program. My time at the Cyclotron Institute has allowed me to expand and learn more interests. My favorite part about TREND so far is being able to build a muon detector. Ever since working with TREND I have gained a strong interest in data science and would like to pursue a career in data science/machine learning.


Daniel Rascon Romo

Undergraduate Student at University of Texas at El Paso, Physics

My name is Daniel Rascon Romo. I am a senior physics student at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where I do voluntary research in nanomagnetic materials. I joined the TREND program in February 2023, and I have been working under the mentoring of Dr. Grigory Rogachev since then. My project consists in developing a Monte Carlo simulation for the indirect study of the reaction 7Be (α,γ)11C by simulating the reaction 7Be(6Li,d)11C under a specific experimental set up that appears to be promising to study the reaction rate of such reaction. This will help to understand the carbon-12 production rate through Hot-PP chain, for which the first reaction previously mentioned plays an important role. My research interests include nanomagnetic materials and nuclear physics. I would like to continue with graduate education in nuclear physics after graduation until I get a PhD in this field.


Sebastian Regener

Undergraduate Student at Texas A&M University, Engineering

Sebastian Regener is an Engineering Undergraduate student at Texas A&M, Class of 2025. He is currently working in Dr. Sherry Yennello’s Group, and his research includes the study of the dead layer and quantifying the energy loss from the dead layer in the DADL. His research interests/reading interests include the study of magnetic fields, quantum mechanics, and cosmology. His goal following his undergraduate is to continue studying at the graduate level in physics.


Leonith Rodriguez

Undergraduate Student at University of Texas at El Paso, Physics

I am a senior undergraduate at UTEP majoring in physics and mathematics with a concentration in Data science and minoring in computer science. I started doing research with Dr. Silsbee in the spring of 2023 at my home school in the astrophysics field, then I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the TREND program. During the summer I worked under Dr. Sherry Yennello’s group, with Dr. Jerome Gauthier as a mentor and Laura McCann as grad student mentor. I analyzed radioactive stacked foil data from an experiment that produced terbium-149, a unique isotope that has both beta (83.3%) and alpha decay (16.7%) used in targeted alpha treatment. After I graduate, my goal is to start a Ph.D. in physics and do research. My favorite extracurricular activities are being vise-president of Society of Physics Students (SPS) at UTEP, president of Tennis Table League (TTL) at UTEP, exercise, and play music.


Aaron Salinas

Undergraduate Student at Texas Lutheran University, Physics

I'm Aaron Salinas and I'm an applied physics major with a minor in math and attend Texas Lutheran University. I worked with Dr. Philip Adsley in the summer of 2023 to determine the validity in results from a published paper discussing the evaluation of the nuclear polarizabity based on photo absorption data. This data suggests continuing effects of the nuclear shell model even at high excitations.


Keslyn Stonum

Undergraduate Student at Texas Lutheran University, Physics and Chemistry

Keslyn Stonum is a junior physics and chemistry major at Texas Lutheran University. She spent the 2023 summer working with Dr. Dan Melconian’s group to install and operate microchannel plate detectors in a beamline system to provide helpful information to help enhance the performance of ion beams. After graduation, she hopes to be a part of a multidisciplinary STEM enterprise.


Miguel Vargas-Calderon

Undergraduate Student at Texas A&M University, Physics

Miguel Vargas-Calderon is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Physics and Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. At the Cyclotron Institute, they work in Dr. Dan Melconian's research group, collaborating with the TRIUMF particle accelerator laboratory in Canada to work on the TRIUMF Neutral Atom Trap for Beta Decays (TRINAT) experiment. Miguel works on improving the design of Multi-Wire Proportional Chamber (MWPC) detectors for use in the TRINAT experiment and on developing output electronics for the MWPC detectors. After graduating, they plan to continue studying physics in graduate school.



Diana Carrasco-Rojas

Undergraduate Student at The University of Texas at El Paso, Physics

Diana Carrasco-Rojas is a Senior majoring in Physics with a concentration in Medical Physics at The University of Texas at El Paso. She started doing research with Dr. Jorge Lopez in 2019 on X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, and her current project is about the search for Na states above the proton threshold with Dr. P Adsley from Texas A&M University as her mentor. Her goal is to complete her Ph.D. and residency in Medical Physics, be certified by the American Board of Radiotherapy, and get a fulfilling job she enjoys.

In her free time, Diana enjoys doing outside activities, listening to music, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.


Alexander M. Pantoja (he/him)

Undergraduate Student at Texas Lutheran University, Applied Physics

Research Interests

I spent the summer of 2022 at College Station assisting Ethan Henderson with exploring the behavior of Electron Cyclotron Resonance Ion Sources through the construction of a microwave camera. I developed a software that allows the user to create or update configuration files that will be used to communicate with electronic devices utilized in this project. I designed a Digital Delay Generator (DDG) that will be used to send signals to certain digital components. The 2022 – 2023 academic year I am designing newer models for the DDG that fits the specifications Ethan has set for his research.


Daniela Ramirez Chavez

Master student at the University of Texas at El Paso, Physics

Daniela Ramirez studied engineering physics at the Universidad Autonóma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ) and MS in physics at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), concluding on December 2022. During her undergraduate in the fall of 2019, she participated in an exchange program and studied at Texas State University - San Marcos. She will join Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute in January 2023.

She has researched gravitational lensing, nuclear matter with molecular dynamics, and the experimental detection of e+e- pairs in nuclear collisions. Her interests are cosmology and nuclear astrophysics. She expects to begin her Ph.D. in Physics in the fall of the same year.

Sophia Sauceda

Undergraduate Student at Texas Lutheran University, Applied Physics and Mathematics

Sophia Sauceda is a Sophomore at Texas Lutheran University, where she is a double major in applied physics and mathematics along with minoring in Mexican American Studies. This is her 2nd summer participating in research. She is also an active member of on and off-campus life by being a part of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), the Mexican American Student Association (MASA), 1st gen students, Xi Tau (sorority), and Teatro de Artes de Juan Seguin. In the future, she plans to go on to grad school to pursue a Ph.D. in Engineering.


Irving Silva

Undergraduate Student at The University of Texas at El Paso, Physics

Irving Silva is an Undergraduate Physics student at UTEP. He is working in Dr. Jeremy Holt’s research team. His research consists in the development of a machine learning algorithm capable of analyze different nuclear potentials from nucleon to nucleon interactions. The algorithm is expected to learn from the already existing potentials and be able to generate new values for nuclear potentials that haven’t been seen before. This will be achieved through generative modeling.

Supported by DE-SC0022469

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