Jacak’s research focuses on experimental study of quark gluon plasma. This is formed in relativistic heavy ion collisions, where nuclei are heated to trillions of degrees and quarks are no longer confined inside hadrons. She is using fast quark and gluon probes of the plasma, following the fate of energy they lose as they traverse the plasma, in experiments at both CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and Brookhaven Lab’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.
Jacak received her B.S at UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. at Michigan State University, where she did one of the first experiments at the K-500 Superconducting Cyclotron. Her research career includes 12 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Physics Division, where she was a J. Robert Oppenheimer Fellow and scientific staff member. After that she spent 18 years as a Professor of Physics at Stony Brook University on Long Island in New York, including 6 years as Spokesperson of the PHENIX Collaboration at RHIC. She moved to Berkeley in 2015 and serves both as Professor of Physics and Director of the Nuclear Science Division at LBNL.
Jacak is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and serves as chair of the Academy’s Board on Physics and Astronomy.