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After graduation, Stachel went in 1983 to the State University of New York at Stony Brook as Feodor-Lynen Fellow of the German Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation. In 1985 she joined the faculty there as Assistant Professor, later as Associate and finally as Full Professor. In this time she performed experiments at the Nuclear Structure Laboratory in Stony Brook, at ORNL and MSU and at the BNL AGS.
In 1996 she moved to the University of Heidelberg to build up the German effort in the ALICE experiment at the CERN LHC.
Stachel has worked in nuclear structure physics, then intermediate energy heavy ion physics and is since 1985 part of the high energy heavy ion physics community studying the quark-gluon plasma, first at Brookhaven and then at CERN. In addition, she has worked on high energy heavy ion phenomenology and has much cited publications in the area of hadronization of the quark-gluon plasma and on charmonia as probe of deconfinement.
She was spokesperson of the CERN SPS experiment CERES/NA45 and is project leader of the ALICE Transition Radiation Detector and member of the ALICE Management Board. She heads the German BMBF Forschungsschwerpunkt ALICE201.
Stachels research was awarded with the Preis der Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet, an A.P. Sloan Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Lautenschlaegerpreis, the German Bundesverdienstkreuz and in 2014 the EPS Lise-Meitner Preis. She is Fellow of the APS, Member of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Academia Europaea, the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften and was just elected as Member of the Leopoldina.
Stachel has served on many national and international committees, including two terms on NSAC, on the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Research Council, the AUI visiting committee for BNL, the Deans advisory committee for the MIT LNS, the CERN SPS and GSI experiment committees, the NIKHEF, DESY, Helsinki Institute of Physics, DAPNIA, FIAS, ECT* and EMMI scientific councils, the CERN scientific policy committee and others. Currently she serves on the University councils in Heidelberg and at the KIT.
Currently Stachel is in the 5th year of the presidential line of the German Physical Society DPG; after one year as president elect and two years as president, she is currently in the middle of the two year term as vice president of the oldest and with about 63 k member largest physical society in the world.
I love to stay grounded in research and teaching of physics and view this as my main profession. Research is a truly international enterprise and, in my field, we are looking ahead to very exciting times of studying the quark-gluon plasma both at the CERN LHC and at RHIC at BNL. More generally, I am convinced of the value of basic research for our society. We need to establish and maintain a good balance between basic and applied research and R&D towards innovation. Therefore we need to convince law and policy makers as well as the general public of the value of basic research. At the same time, I realize that our society needs scientifically educated people and in particular needs physicists. Therefore, beyond educating physics students, I focus on the next generation of physicists, Kto12 physics education and the 'supply' in physics teachers and their education. My past 4 years in the presidential line of the DPG were rewarding and interesting. I was continuously promoting a balance between basic and applied research. I initiated several studies on physics and teachers education and we are currently in Germany following through with recommendations and initiatives from these. Many of the questions and challenges for the German and American Physical Societies are similar (and some are not). I would be happy to bring my experience in the DPG, in international research and research organization and my knowledge of the US research landscape and of the APS together as International Councilor of the APS.