Or Hen

Class of 1956 Career Development Associate Professor of Physics
Focuses on studies of QCD effects in the nuclear medium, and the interplay between partonic and nucleonic degrees of freedom in nuclei.
(617) 258-0541
Office: 26-419
Affiliated Center(s): Laboratory for Nuclear Science
Assistant: Alisa Cabral

Research Interests

Professor Hen’s research focuses on studies of QCD effects in the nuclear medium, and the interplay between partonic and nucleonic degrees of freedom in nuclei. Specifically, Hen utilizes high-energy scattering of electron, neutrino, photon, proton and ion off atomic nuclei to study Short-Range Correlations (SRCs): Temporal fluctuations of high-density, high-momentum, nucleon clusters in nuclei. Due to their overlapping quark distributions and strong interaction, SRC pairs serve as a bridge between low-energy nuclear structure, high-density nuclear matter, and high-energy quark distributions (the EMC effect); with important consequences for strong-interaction physics, hadronic structure and astrophysics

Hen and collaborators conducted experiments at the US based Thomas-Jefferson and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratories, as well as other accelerators around the world, where they study the structure and characteristics of SRC pairs and examined their effect on various topics in nuclear, particle, atomic and astrophysics.

In addition, Hen leads a program of neutrino-nucleus interaction studies to facilitate next generation precision neutrino oscillation measurements. This program includes leadership of the electrons-for-neutrinos measurement program at Jefferson-Lab and neutrino-argon scattering measurements using the MicroBooNE experiment at Fermilab.

Biographical Sketch

Or Hen grew up in Moshav Even-Sapir, in the countryside of Jerusalem, Israel. He received his undergraduate degree in physics and computer engineering from the Hebrew University and earned his PhD in experimental physics at Tel-Aviv University. Before joining the MIT physics faculty in July 2017, Hen was an MIT Pappalardo Fellow in Physics from 2015-2017. Named the Class of 1956 Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics in 2021.

Awards & Honors

  • 2022 // American Physical Society (APS) Fellow "For using eA and pA hard reaction measurements to advance our knowledge of short-range correlated nucleon pairs in nuclei and their effects on nuclear and nucleon structure."
  • 2021 // Appointed Class of 1956 Career Development Associate Professor of Physics (MIT)
  • 2020 // Sloan Research Fellowship
  • 2019 // Stuart Jay Freedman Award in Experimental Nuclear Physics (APS) "For innovative, wide-ranging experiments that found important manifestations of nuclear neutron-proton short-range correlations."
  • 2019 // Early Career Research Program Award, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science
  • 2019 // IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Nuclear Physics "“For extending our knowledge and understanding of short range correlations in nuclei, and for the discovery of a remarkable linear relationship between high-momentum correlations and the deviation of the quark momentum in a heavy nucleus.
  • 2018 // Guido Altarelli Award "For his role in uncovering a striking relation of the nuclear EMC effect and the strength of nucleon-nucleon correlations, with implications for the constraint of the down and up quark distribution ration at large x."
  • 2018 // Professor Amar G. Bose Fellowship (MIT) "Project: Beyond Standard Practices<&emdash;>An innovative method for identifying new particles"
  • 2016 // Fermi Lab Intensity-Frontier Fellowship
  • 2016 // Jefferson Science Association Dissertation Prize
  • 2015 // Rothschild Fellowship
  • 2015-18 // MIT Pappalardo Fellowship
  • 2015 // Israeli Physics Society Dissertation Prize
  • 2013 // A. Pazi Award of the Israeli Council for Higher Education
  • 2011 // Y. Eisenberg Prize of Tel-Aviv University

Key Publications

  • A. Schmidt, J.R. Pybus, R. Weiss, and E.P. Segarra et al. (CLAS Collaboration), “Probing the core of the strong nuclear interaction”, Nature 578, 540 (2020).

  • B. Schmookler, M. Duer, A. Schmidt, and O. Hen et al. (CLAS Collaboration), “Modified Structure of Protons and Neutrons in Correlated Pairs”, Nature 566, 354 (2019).

  • M. Duer and O. Hen et al. (CLAS Collaboration), “Probing High Momentum Protons and Neutrons in Neutron-Rich Nuclei”, Nature 560, 617 (2018).