Two Virginia Graduate Students Get a Boost for Research

  • Hunter Presley and Justin Cammarota - DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program awardees

Graduate students studying at the University of Virginia and William & Mary have received support from DOE to conduct research at Jefferson Lab

NEWPORT NEWS – Two graduate students at Virginia universities who plan to conduct research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have just received grants toward their projects. They are among 80 graduate students representing 27 states selected to receive support through the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program’s 2021 Solicitation 2 cycle.

SCGSR enables world-class training and access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources at DOE national laboratories. The program helps prepare graduate students to enter jobs of critical importance to the DOE mission and secures the U.S. position at the forefront of discovery and innovation.

“For decades, DOE has cultivated the expertise to meet the nation’s greatest scientific challenges. Now more than ever, we need to invest in a diverse, talented pipeline of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who will be the future science and innovation leaders of this country,” said Under Secretary of Science and Innovation Geraldine Richmond. “I’m thrilled these outstanding students will help us tackle critical research at our labs, and I know their futures are bright.”

The two Jefferson Lab graduate student awardees are both studying at universities in Virginia:

  • Hunter Presley is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Presley will work with Jefferson Lab’s Jian-Ping Chen on an upgrade of the polarized helium-3 target and its operation in Experimental Hall A. He will also conduct an experiment to measure the neutron electric form factor at very high momentum transfer. These delicate experiments probe the charge distributions of a neutral particle – the neutron – in terms of its fundamental degrees of freedom, the charged quarks that live inside the neutron.
  • Justin Cammarota is pursuing a Ph.D. at William & Mary in Williamsburg. Cammarota will work with Jefferson Lab's Wally Melnitchouk and other Theory Center staff on a research project that will contribute to answering questions about how the proton emerges from its underlying quark and gluon constituents. The project will translate Cammarota’s theoretical structure function developments, which combine QED and QCD factorization formalism, into a computational package ready for use by experimentalists as they analyze new scattering data. Structure functions relate to the probability distribution of quarks in the proton, and are of fundamental importance necessary to understand the experimental connection to theory.

Since 2014, the SCGSR program has provided more than 870 U.S. graduate awardees from 155 universities with supplemental funds to conduct part of their thesis research at a host DOE laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist. In this cohort, more than 40% of SCGSR awardees are women, about 14% of the awardees attend minority serving institutions (MSIs), and 17.5% are from institutions in jurisdictions that are part of the Establishing Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR).

SCGSR awardees work on research projects of significant importance to the Office of Science mission that address societal challenges at national and international scales. Awards were made through the SCGSR program’s second of two annual solicitation cycles for FY 2021.

Contact: Kandice Carter, Jefferson Lab Communications Office,


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit