NEWPORT NEWS—The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has appointed Cynthia “Thia” Keppel as Jefferson Lab’s Associate Director for Experimental Nuclear Physics. In this role, Keppel will oversee more than 170 Jefferson Lab staff members.
“After an international search for this important position, I am very happy that Thia has agreed to take on this role,” said Jefferson Lab Director Stuart Henderson. “Thia has proven that she is a great leader and an exemplary scientist with a bold vision, and we look forward to the contributions toward our scientific mission that she will make in her new role.”
Keppel has been affiliated with Jefferson Lab since 1995. She began at the lab as a jointly appointed Jefferson Lab staff scientist and Hampton University professor. She became the Jefferson Lab Hall A leader in 2012. In this role, she took responsibility for one of the four large experimental halls and collaborations. In 2014, she was named combined Hall A/C leader. Throughout, she has been instrumental in the lab’s experimental programs. Her interests lie in developing novel and precision approaches to studying the fundamental quark structure of matter.
Keppel has also been active in the academic community in both nuclear physics and radiation medicine. She served as director of the Hampton University Nuclear and High Energy Physics Research Center; the scientific & technical director and then senior executive director of the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, and community professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Biophysics at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
At Hampton University, Keppel was involved in the development of medical applications from nuclear physics research. She founded the HU Center for Advanced Medical Instrumentation (CAMI). At CAMI, researchers concentrated on technology development for nuclear medicine, radiation therapy and other medical applications. Additionally, she established and co-directed the HU joint medical physics program with the Eastern Virginia Medical School. This program was the first medical physics program in Virginia and the only one nationally at a historically Black college.
Keppel earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint John’s College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from The American University for work at DOE’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California. She has authored or co-authored more than 180 scientific papers and been chosen as spokesperson by her peers for numerous experiments and she has authored nine patents. Keppel has also been tapped to participate on a myriad of national advisory panels and been invited to speak at many international conferences on her work.
Over the course of her career, Keppel has received numerous awards. She received a prestigious DOE Office of Science Distinguished Scientist Fellowship in 2020, the American Physical Society (APS) 2019 Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics, the Francis G. Slack Award from the Southeastern Section of the APS in 2016, and the Virginia Outstanding Scientist award in 2011. She was also recognized by her peers with an APS Fellowship in 2018.