Robert Tribble Named RIKEN BNL Research Center Director

International collaboration members continue effort to explore the building blocks of matter

Robert Tribble enlarge

Robert Tribble, pictured in 2018, in RHIC's main control room

Robert Tribble, an experimental physicist who previously served as deputy director for science and technology at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, is the new director of the RIKEN BNL Research Center (RBRC) for a five-year term, effective April 1, 2023.

The RBRC is a physics research center formed by an international collaboration between Brookhaven Lab and RIKEN—Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research. Its researchers take on projects in both experimental and theoretical physics, with a focus on spin physics, lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD) computational physics, and quark gluon-plasma (QGP)—all with a major question in mind: How was matter formed after the Big Bang?

“The RBRC is at the beginning of a period of transition,” Tribble said, noting the center’s goals as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a DOE Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics at Brookhaven, enters its final data-taking runs and as physicists prepare for the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC)—a new physics discovery machine that will cast fresh light on the protons and neutrons that make up the atomic nucleus, and the strong force that binds them together.

RBRC members working on sPHENIX, a new detector currently under commissioning, are positioned to begin collecting data from RHIC’s remaining runs, then analyze the collisions it captures, Tribble said. He also noted that theory efforts associated with RBRC remain very active with world leading programs in lattice QCD calculations and nuclear theory in support of the RHIC program. 

“One of my goals as RBRC director is to ensure that these programs continue to flourish,” Tribble said. “The science of the EIC has strong overlap with the science that has come from the polarized proton-proton collisions at RHIC, where RBRC members have been leaders. During the next few years, the RBRC will work toward defining a role for RIKEN, and more broadly Japan, in this exciting new effort.”

Tribble succeeds physicist Hideto En’yo, who served as RBRC director since April 2017 and continues to be a strong advocate for RIKEN involvement at RHIC and the future EIC.

An experimental physicist whose work spans a broad range of topics, Tribble has conducted groundbreaking research exploring fundamental symmetries, the Standard Model, nuclear structure and reactions, nuclear astrophysics, and proton spin. He is widely credited with developing new tools and techniques that have advanced the field, and has also served as a member or chair of numerous long-range planning committees for the American Physical Society (APS) and the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC, an advisory committee for the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation).

Tribble earned his B.S. with honors in Physics from the University of Missouri, Columbia (1969), and his Ph.D. from Princeton University (1973). He joined the Texas A&M University faculty in 1975, served as Department Head of Physics 1979-87, and has served as Director of the Cyclotron Institute. His numerous honors and awards include being named an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1976-80), a Fellow of the American Physical Society (1982), an honorary doctorate from Saint Petersburg State University, Russia (2009), and various awards recognizing his excellence in teaching and research.

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2023-21464  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom