Research Associate - Experimental Nuclear Astrophysics

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) is a major new scientific user facility for nuclear science, funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), Michigan State University (MSU), and the State of Michigan, with operations supported by the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. FRIB will provide intense beams of rare isotopes (that is, short-lived nuclei not normally found on Earth). FRIB will be operational in 2022. Presently, experiments are performed at MSU at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) supported by the National Science Foundation. NSCL accelerates stable and long-lived rare isotopes. FRIB and NSCL will continue to enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of these rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society.

At FRIB, rare-isotopes beams will be produced and separated in-flight, and subsequently thermalized and reaccelerated to energies up to 6 MeV/u, by the ReAccelerator facility ReA3, a worldwide unique, state-of-the-art accelerator for rare-isotope beams. An upgrade to higher energies (ReA6) is presently under construction. Presently stable and long-lived rare isotopes are accelerated at NSCL. When FRIB comes online, it will provide the highest possible intensity rare isotope beams as input to the ReA facility.

This position affords an exciting opportunity to become part of the world-class FRIB Laboratory, and to get in on the ground floor of an emerging scientific user facility that will expand nuclear science into a whole new realm of possibility.

Position overview

NSCL invites applications from outstanding candidates for a fixed-term research associate (postdoctoral researcher) position in the area of experimental nuclear astrophysics, who will work in the research group led by Professor Chris Wrede (

Major position responsibilities

The successful candidate will have the unique opportunity to make major contributions to designing, building, commissioning, and running the first scientific experiments with, the Particle X-ray Coincidence Technique (PXCT) detection system for nuclear astrophysics. PXCT will use various solid-state detector technologies to measure radiations (X-rays, gamma rays, protons, and alpha particles) associated with the electron-capture decays of proton-rich nuclides in FRIB’s thermalized rare-isotope beam area. The data will be used to constrain the energies, spins, parities, lifetimes, and branching ratios of unbound states: The ingredients needed to determine the rates of key thermonuclear reactions and photodisintegrations in explosive astrophysical environments such as supernovae and X-ray bursts on accreting neutron stars. These rates will be used to simulate astrophysical observables associated with nucleosynthesis and/or energy generation in collaboration with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics – Center for the Evolution of the Elements (JINA-CEE). Opportunities will also be available to contribute to experiments using other systems including the Gaseous Detector with Germanium Tagging TPC (GADGET II) at FRIB and the Doppler Shift Lifetimes 2 (DSL2) setup at TRIUMF.



  • PhD in nuclear physics, nuclear and radiochemistry, nuclear astrophysics, or related field
  • Ability to carry out independent and original research as demonstrated by published work in refereed journals and/or conference proceedings
  • Demonstrated written and oral communication skills, as evidenced by published work and by presentations at conferences, workshops, scientific outreach, and other professional meetings
  • Strong research interest, demonstrated in the cover letter, in at least one and preferably several of the following areas: Nuclear detector developments, simulations of experimental setups, data analysis and interpretation, and digital data acquisition
  • Ability to work with export-controlled technologies


  • Demonstrable knowledge of experimental principles and techniques pertaining to nuclear spectroscopy involving charged-particle, gamma-ray, and/or X-ray spectroscopy
  • Experience with semiconductor radiation detectors
  • Experience with computer programming for the purpose of acquiring and analyzing data and for comparison with model predictions
  • Experience designing, building, and commissioning new experimental equipment
  • Experience in the field of 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 visit and search for posting number 706664 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 persons with disabilities.

About FRIB and MSU, and the East Lansing community

FRIB construction is nearing completion. 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 a member of the prestigious Association of the American Universities, a group of 65 universities widely regarded as among the top research-intensive institutions in North America. MSU is among the 100 Best Global Universities, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2021 rankings. MSU’s nuclear physics graduate program is ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of graduate schools.

MSU is one of the largest university campuses in the U.S. with a beautiful campus of 5,300 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 more than 460,000 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. named Lansing as the most affordable city on its 2018 Best Affordable Places to Live list and one of the 2020 Top 100 Best Places to Live. East Lansing is one of the Best Places to Live according to the 2019 ranking by Okemos is No. 1 in the 2020 Best Places to Live in Michigan ranking.

MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer.