Monmouth College physics professor Christopher Fasano has been awarded a $228,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the generation of X-rays from lightning.

By studying the rays, Fasano and his students hope to learn more about the production and characteristics of lightning strikes and contribute to the growing field of atmospheric electricity and atmospheric particle acceleration.

Fasano’s research focuses upon naturally occurring lightning strikes in western Illinois and eastern Iowa.

Fasano and his students will build and deploy 10 detection packages at area schools. Each package includes a lightning detector, an X-ray detector and an array of sensors that will measure parameters like pressure, temperature and electric field strength. The packages will be placed on rooftops, and measurements will be taken both during storms and clear weather.

Fasano, who chairs the physics department, has been at Monmouth since 1998. He holds both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago.

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