Research Associate

The nuclear astrophysics group at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at Michigan State University (MSU) is seeking to fill the position of a Research Associate (Postdoctoral Researcher) in experimental nuclear astrophysics. The successful applicant will work with Fernando Montes and Hendrik Schatz primarily on developing and using the Separator for Capture Reactions (SECAR) recoil separator to directly measure astrophysical reaction rates that are critical to our understanding of stellar explosions and the origin of the elements in the cosmos.

SECAR is nearing completion at NSCL, commissioning experiments have begun, and first science experiments are expected for 2020/2021. SECAR is jointly funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), and the National Science Foundation and will initially use NSCL beams, before enabling nuclear astrophysics experiments at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). FRIB is a new national user facility for nuclear science funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), MSU, and the State of Michigan. It is currently under construction on the site of NSCL and will be operated by MSU.

The position offers collaborative opportunities with other members of the NSCL nuclear astrophysics group (A. Spyrou, C. Wrede, and R. Zegers), with world leading technical staff at FRIB, as well as astrophysicists at NSCL and the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy. NSCL at MSU is also one of the core institutions of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA-CEE) and the IReNA International Research network for Nuclear Astrophysics that offer unmatched opportunities to collaborate with nuclear experimentalists, astrophysicists, and observers across the world. 

This Research Associate position is an annual fixed-term appointment up to three years, depending on the availability of funds. Yearly renewal is based on a satisfactory performance evaluation.

Position Overview

Research Associate in experimental nuclear science

Major Position Responsibilities

  • Prepare and conduct experiments in experimental nuclear astrophysics, analyze and interpret the data and disseminate the results in peer-reviewed journals and at professional meetings
  • Advance the understanding of the SECAR system and develop, test, implement, and document improvements, auxiliary detection systems, associated data acquisition systems, and analysis tools.
  • Be an active member of the NSCL Experimental Research Division and collaborate with other researchers and staff to further nuclear science
  • Interact with undergraduate and graduate students and help to supervise their research
  • Follow laboratory-wide policies, procedures and standards and contribute to a safe and welcoming environment at the laboratory

Required Qualifications

  • PhD in nuclear physics, nuclear and radiochemistry, nuclear astrophysics, or related fields
  • Ability to work with export controlled technologies

Desired Qualifications

  • Demonstrable knowledge of principles and techniques pertaining to nuclear science and experimental research
  • Experience with computer programming for the purpose of acquiring and analyzing data and for the comparison with model predictions
  • Excellent communication skills to present approaches, plans and findings both verbally and through written documents to peers
  • Demonstrated interest in nuclear astrophysics


MSU employees receive excellent benefits including health/dental plans, a generous retirement plan, and educational assistance.

How to apply

For immediate consideration, please go and search for posting number 649393 and follow the application process.

MSU is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, veterans and person with disabilities.

About FRIB and MSU, and the East Lansing Community

FRIB is currently under construction and baselined at a total project cost of $730M. Upon start of user operation in 2022, FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications of rare isotopes to benefit society.

MSU is one of the largest university campuses in the U.S. with a beautiful campus of 5,000 tree-filled acres. It has 17 degree-granting colleges and is a center for academic and research activities as well as the arts and athletics.

The campus sits between Lansing (Michigan’s capital city) and East Lansing. The Lansing area has a population of 350,000 and offers lovely suburban areas, loft condos and other urban living opportunities as well as easy-to-get-to rural areas. A symphony orchestra, excellent health care, many community and professional theatres, rivers, lakes, outdoor festivals, close access to large cities and Lake Michigan make for a near perfect living environment.

MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer.