Dr. Darren Bleuel has a diverse experimental nuclear physics research background with a particular focus on cross-disciplinary fields like nuclear-plasma-atomic interactions, biological effects of radiation, laser-induced nuclear reactions, and astrophysical nucleosynthesis. He also has extensive experience performing a wide variety of accelerator-based experiments involving gamma-ray spectroscopy in coincidence with particle identification, as well as neutronics simulations using MCNP.
He received both his Bachelor’s and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He then served as a postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developing a deuteron-breakup facility at the 88-Inch Cyclotron. Subsequently, as a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he developed and led the neutron activation diagnostic program at the National Ignition Facility—the only postdoc to be assigned the role of “Responsible Scientist” for a primary diagnostic. Results showing the first indication of capsule compression anisotropy were displayed on the cover of “Physics of Plasmas,” Volume 20 (7). The National Ignition Facility awarded him two Directorate Awards for development and leadership of this diagnostic. He became a full-time staff physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2007.
In July of 2012, he was awarded a highly competitive and prestigious “UCOP Management Fee” grant, totaling $1.5M over three years. Through this grant, he has formed and led a team of graduate students, postdocs, research staff, and a number of undergraduates at the University of California at Berkeley, investigating high energy density plasma effects on nuclear reactions, such as would be found in the astrophysical environments where elements form. He is also the lead PI for a Laboratory-Directed Research and Development grant supporting measurements of level densities and strength functions, collaborating regularly in this field with colleagues in Norway and South Africa.
Dr. Bleuel actively pursues opportunities in the education of young scientists, regularly developing short-term projects for summer students, teaching a lab course on scintillator characterization in the most recent Rare Isotope Beam summer school, and co-instructing NE290J, a new course in the Nuclear Engineering department at the University of California at Berkeley.