United States Air Force Academy

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Major Daniel Higgins

Research Scientist

Department of Chemistry

Official Photo of Daniel Higgins
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Major Daniel Higgins is a research scientist and adjunct instructor with the Department of Chemistry as an IMA reservist. He teaches both general and advanced chemistry specializing in nuclear topics, while also serving as a mentor to future Air Force leaders. Furthermore, Major Higgins leads novel research in advanced materials and nuclear sciences.

Maj Higgins received a Bachelor of Science in physics and earned a commission from the US Air Force Academy in 2006. Upon commissioning he was stationed at Hurlburt Field, FL as an Opposition Forces (OPFOR) Small Team Leader in the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron providing realistic training scenarios for US and allied special operations forces. He then joined the Nuclear Explosion Monitoring program at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Hanscom AFB, MA where he served as physicist in nuclear non-proliferation technology. He then earned a Master of Science in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH specializing in nuclear weapons technology and positron physics and chemistry. From there he joined the Air Force Technical Application Center at Patrick AFB, FL specializing in nuclear non-proliferation technology and nuclear fuel cycle analyses. In 2015, Major Higgins transferred from active duty to the reserves at Kirtland AFB, NM where he served as a senior nuclear physicist supporting the office of the Chief Scientist at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and as the IMA to the Branch Chief of Atomic Long-Range Systems in the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate. In 2018, he earned a Doctorate of Philosophy from the Colorado School of Mines and completed a fellowship with the Los Alamos National Laboratory performing research in nuclear physics. Maj Higgins joined the chemistry department in the Fall of 2020. He enjoys spending time in the mountains hiking, skiing, and cycling with his wife Courtney and their dog Rocket.


Bachelor of Science, Physics, United States Air Force Academy, CO (2006)

Master of Science, Nuclear Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (2012)

Doctorate of Philosophy, Nuclear Physics, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (2018)

Honors & Awards

National Defense Service Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

AF Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster

Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal

Meritorious Service Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal

Senior Acquisitions and Financial Management Badge

Senior Space Operations Badge

Parachutist Badge


M. Monterial, K.T. Schmitt, C. Prokop, U. Greife, D. Higgins, L. Snyder, F. Tovesson. Measurement of Material Isotopics and Atom Number Ratio with α-particle Spectroscopy for the Fission Time Projection Chamber Actinide Target. Nuclear Instr. & Methods A (2021)

L. Snyder, R. Casperson, D. Hensle, D. Higgins, F. Tovesson, N. Walsh, L. Yao, W. Younes. Measurement of the 239Pu(n,f)/235U(n,f) Cross-Section Ratio with the NIFFTE fissionTPC. Nuclear Data Sheets (2021)

D. Hensle, D. Higgins, S. Sangiorgio. Neutron-Induced Fission Fragment Angular Distributions, Anisotropy, and Linear Momentum Transfer Measured with the NIFFTE Fission Time Projection Chamber. Physical Review C (2020)

N. Walsh, R. Casperson, D. Higgins, W. Loveland, S. Mosby, L. Snyder. 1H(n,el) as a Cross Section Reference in a White Source Neutron Beam with the fissionTPC. Physical Review C (2020)

D. Higgins, U. Greife, F. Tovesson, B. Manning, D. Mayorov, K. Schmitt. Fission fragment mass yields and total kinetic energy release in neutron-induced fission of 233U from thermal energies to 40 MeV. Physical Review C (2020)

D. Higgins, U. Greife, S. Mosby, F. Tovesson. Total Kinetic Energy and Fragment Mass Distributions from Fission of 232Th and 233U. The European Physical Journal Conf. 193, 02003 (2018)

R. Casperson, D. Higgins, F. Tovesson. Measurement of the Normalized 238U(n,f)/235U(n,f) Cross Section Ratio from Threshold to 30 MeV with the Fission Time Projection Chamber. Physical Review C (2017)

V. Geppert-Kleinrath, F. Tovesson, D. Higgins. Fission Fragment Angular Anisotropy in Neutron-Induced Fission of 235U Measured with a Time Projection Chamber. Physical Review C (2017)

L. Snyder, B. Manning, D. Higgins, F. Tovesson. Performance of a Micromegas-Based TPC in a High-Flux High-Energy Neutron Beam. Nuclear Instr. & Methods A (2017)

D. Higgins, L. Burggraf. Positron Lifetime Modulation by Electric Field Induced Positronium Formation on a Gold Surface. Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), ADA558538 (2012)

D. Higgins, R. Raistrick, W. Chan, H. Ghalib. Regional Studies in Seismology. DTIC, AFRL-RV-HA-TR-2008-1025 (2009)

D. Higgins, H. Ghalib, W. Chan, R. Raistrick. Seismoacoustic Stations Deployment and Data Interpretation. DTIC, AFRL-RV-HA-TR-2008-1037 (2008)

D. Higgins, R. Raistrick. A Comprehensive Ground Truth Database Study of China. DTIC, AFRL-RV-HA-TR-2008-1005 (2008)