In the past five years, the Physics department has received over $1.1M in federal funding- three grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), one grant from KY-NSF-EPSCoR, and one grant from the NASA-KSGC program.
In 2009,Professor Akhtar Mahmood received a$25,000 grant from NASA’s Kentucky Space Grant Consortium (KSGC), for physics students to work with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA, on a future NASA space-based mission (called SIM-Lite) that will search for nearby stars for Earth-like planets.Dr. Mahmood and his students worked with the JPL team on the Spectral Calibration Development Unit, a platform for testing the very precise calibrations necessary to produce instruments capable of identifying extrasolar Earth-like planets.
In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Professor Akhtar Mahmood a grant in the amount of $200,273 to establish a Tier3 Grid Supercomputing Center at Bellarmine University using the Open Science Grid (OSG) cyberinfrastructure. Bellarmine University broke new grounds by being the first undergraduate institution in the US (and the only institution in Kentucky) to implement an OSG grid site. The grant allowed Dr. Akhtar Mahmood and his students to become a member of the ATLAS research team at CERN which is one of the two experiments that reported the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. Using the supercomputer, Physics students processed and analyzed data from the ATLAS experiment at CERN to search for the elusive Higgs boson and other subatomic particles. The discovery of the Higgs boson was hailed as the 2012 Breakthrough of the Year and is regarded as one of the major scientific discoveries of this century. The 2013 Physics Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of the Higgs boson.
In 2012, Professor Akhtar Mahmood received a grant from NSF in the amount of $209,347 to establish an Advanced Visualization and Computational Lab (AVCL) to enable large-scale visualization of Big Data. Bellarmine was the only university in Kentucky to receive a research instrumentation grant from NSF in 2012. This grant was funded under the Obama Administration’s Big Data R&D Initiative, which aims to fund research projects to advance the scientific and technological means of managing, analyzing, visualizing and extracting useful information from Big Data. Dr. Mahmood and his students are also using the Display wall as a Tier3 Grid Command Center for Bellarmine University’s supercomputer and to monitor the ATLAS grid jobs that are being processed world-wide.
In 2012, Professor Akhtar Mahmood received a grant from NSF in the amount of $600,000 to establish the Bellarmine-NSF STEM Scholars Program which provides scholarships 20 STEM student annually in the amount of $7,500 per year for four years. As a part of this NSF grant, Bellarmine University implemented a new living and learning community (called the Eureka Learning Community) for the STEM students.
In 2013, Professor Akhtar Mahmood received a grant in the amount of $16,541 from the KY NSF-EPSCoR program to conduct research in High Energy Physics with the LHC-ATLAS Experiment at CERN to search for new types of subatomic particles. Two physics majors received summer research stipend to work on this project.