Profile for Shelly Lesher

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Shelly Lesher

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

Experimental Nuclear Physics
Physics and Society
Mentor training

Current courses at UWL

Note: I am currently serving as the Director of the UWL McNair Scholars Program and Physics Department Chair and not teaching during the academic year. I am always interested in meeting with Physics students and still accept students into my nuclear science research program.  Please make an appointment or use my office hours.

PHY 142 - Navigating Global Issues might be offered during Winter term in the future. Please send an email if interested.


Ph.D. Nuclear Physics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Physics, Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, IN


Teaching history

PHY 103 / PHY 103L - Fundamental Physics (general education category GE05)
PHY 125 / PHY 125L - Physics for the Life Sciences (general education category GE05)
PHY 142 - Navigating Global Nuclear Issues  (general education category GE04)
PHY 311L - Experimental Physics
PHY 343 - Thermodynamics
PHY 376 / PHY 376L - Intro to Nuclear Science
PHY 386 - Radiation Physics
PHY 497 - Physics & Astronomy Seminar
PHY 498 - Nuclear Physics Research

PHYS 296 - Impact of the Atom (Seminar)

@University of Richmond
PHYS 127 - Algebra-Based General Physics 1 (Workshop format)

Professional history

Prior to joining the Physics Department at UWL I held Postdoctoral Fellowship positions at the Instituut voor Kern- en Stralingsfysica, University of Leuven, Belgium, the University of Richmond, and N-Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. Since 2010 I have been a Guest Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Notre Dame. For the Academic Year 2019/2020 I was on sabbatical at Yale University as a Presidential Visiting Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor in Physics. Since my return, I retain Visiting Faculty status in the Yale Physics Department.

I serve as the Director of the Conference Experience for Undergraduate (CEU) program for the Division of Nuclear Physics (DNP) as part of the American Physical Society (APS) and was elected to the DNP Executive Committee for a two-year term starting in 2023. In 2020 I was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society

In 2021 I was appointed Director of the UWL McNair Scholars Program.

Research and publishing

My research involves studying the vibration of nuclei using a combination of accelerated beams and detector arrays at research laboratories around the world. To further these goals, our group is collaborating with the University of Notre Dame Institute for Structure and Nuclear Astrophysics (ISNAP), to build our own detector array, the La Crosse fIREBAll. This detector will measure conversion electrons in coincidence with gamma rays at ISNAP on nuclide we have interest in studying.

All of my research involves UWL undergraduates. The La Crosse fIREBAll requires students to develop the detectors and software needed to operate the array. Most other projects involve data analysis. 

Some undergraduate students are involved in My Nuclear Life, a podcast which explores the ways nuclear science and society intersect.

Current work is supported by two National Science Foundation Grants, Nos. PHY-1919364 and PHY-2011267.


Google Scholar link.      Research Gate Link

(selected publications) UWL undergraduate students underlined

Lifetime measurements of 0+ states in 168Er with the Doppler-shift attenuation method
S.R. Lesher, A. Aprahamian, K. Lee, B. Alemayehu, L.M. Clark, X. James, J.C.T. Lowrie, M. Meier, L. McEwan, S. Mukhopadhyay, E.E. Peters, A.P.D. Ramirez, M. Ryan, B.G. Rice, A. Stratman, E. Temanson, J.R. Vanhoy, and S.W. Yates, Phys. Rev. C 106, 044302 (2022).

Lifetime measurements in 156Gd
A. Aprahamian, R.C. de Haan, S.R. Lesher, C. Casarella, A. Stratman, H.G. Börner, H. Lehmann, M. Jentschel, and A.M. Bruce, Phys. Rev. C 98, 034303 (2018).

Lifetime measurements of low-spin negative parity levels in 160Gd
S. R. Lesher, C. Casarella, A. Aprahamian, L.M. Robledo, B. P. Crider, R. Ikeyama, I. R. Marsh, M. T. McEllistrem, E. E. Peters, F. M. Prados-Estevez, M. K. Smith, Z. R. Tully, J. R. Vanhoy, S. W. Yates, Phys. Phys. Rev. C 95, 064309 (2017).

Lifetime measurements in 162Dy
A. Aprahamian, S.R. Lesher, C. Casarella, H.G. Borner, M. Jentschel, Phys. Rev. C 95, 024329 (2017).

Collectivity of 0+ states in 160Gd
S. R. Lesher, C. Casarella, A. Aprahamian, B. P. Crider, R. Ikeyama, I. Marsh, M. T. McEllistrem, E. E. Peters, F. M. Prados-Estevez, M. K. Smith, Z. R. Tully, J. R. Vanhoy, S. W. Yates, Phys. Rev. C 91, 054317 (2015).

Signatures of the Z = 84 Shell Closure in α-Decay Process
A. N. Andreyev, M. Huyse, P. Van Duppen, C. Qi, R. J. Liotta, S. Antalic, D. Ackermann, S. Franchoo, F. P. Hessberger, S. Hofmann, I. Kojouharov, B. Kindler, P. Kuusiniemi, S. R. Lesher, B. Lommel, R. Mann, K. Nishio, R. D. Page, B. Streicher, S. Saro, B. Suligano, D. Wiseman, R. A. Wyss, Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 242502 (2013).

STARS/LiBerACE: Segmented silicon and high-purity germanium detector arrays for low-energy nuclear reaction and structure studies
S.R. Lesher, L. Phair, L.A. Bernstein, D.L. Bleuel, J.T. Burke, J.A. Church, P. Fallon, J. Gibelin, N.D. Scielzo, and M. Wiedeking, Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A, 621, 286 (2010).



Shelly Lesher, Physics, presented "Communication on Nuclear Topics and Challenges to Public Perception" at Council on Ionizing Radiation Measurements and Standards Annual Meeting on April 19 in Washington, DC. as the closing Keynote speaker.

Submitted on: April 25



Shelly Lesher, Physics, authored the article "Lifetime measurements of 0+ states in 168Er with the Doppler-shift attenuation method" in Physical Review C published on Oct. 7 by American Physical Society. This paper was published with five UWL undergraduate student authors.

Submitted on: Oct. 9, 2022



Shelly Lesher, Physics, presented "Collectivity in Erbium" at Zakopane Conference on Nuclear Physics on Aug. 30 in Zakopane, Poland.

Submitted on: Sept. 19, 2022



Lexie Weghorn, Physics BS and Shelly Lesher, Physics, designed the podcast "My Nuclear Life" for "general dissemination on all podcatchers". This podcast is based on a course taught at UWL and explores the relationship between nuclear science and society.

Submitted on: Jan. 4, 2021



Shelly Lesher, Physics, Physics, elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). This prestigious recognition is awarded to members on behalf of their outstanding contributions to physics by their APS peers. No more than one half of one percent of the membership is awarded Fellowship each year.

Submitted on: Sept. 24, 2020



Shelly Lesher, Physics, was interviewed by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) of AAAS Science & Human Rights Coalition on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Dr. Lesher was interviewed as part of the series, Responding to COVID-19: Science and Human Rights series by the AAAS. As the past-chair of the Committee on the International Freedom of Scientists (CIFS) of the American Physical Society (APS) she discussed two of the ways physicists used their skills during the initial months of the pandemic.

Submitted on: Aug. 12, 2020


Memberships & affiliations

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