Your success as a graduate student is important to us. Our graduates are in high demand, and they are the best testimony to the quality of our top-ranked graduate education program.

As a nuclear or accelerator physicist, engineer, or nuclear chemist educated at FRIB, you are well positioned to pursue a variety of career paths. You are expertly trained to do research at a university, at a national laboratory or in an industrial setting. You are well-qualified to teach at a small college or a large university. You can pursue science policy or specialize in business. You can work for the U.S. Patent Office, on Wall Street, or at the Mayo Clinic. If you are not sure which direction to take, we have a large network of FRIB Laboratory alumni who will gladly speak with you about their professions.

FRIB Laboratory graduates now occupy many important positions at universities, national laboratories, and the private sector, making valuable contributions to society in many different areas.

Recent laboratory graduates now work on cancer therapy, airport anti-terrorist safety, environmental protection, weapons safeguards, national security, nuclear fusion, and radiation safety of space travel. Others have chosen careers where they apply their problem solving and goal-oriented teamwork skills in diverse areas of the economy, including car manufacturing, electronics, computing, and finance.

Alumni and student spotlights

Crispin Contreras-Martinez, PhD in Physics, 2021

Crispin ContrerasCrispin Contreras received a PhD in physics at MSU, where Peter Ostroumov served as his advisor. Crispin joined MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program in October 2017. He studied  the electromagnetic and mechanical properties of medium beta superconducting elliptical cavities. Crispin’s thesis project was  to understand the limitations of fast tuners based on piezo actuators. Superconducting linear accelerators (linacs) can provide high-power proton and ion beams in continuous-wave (CW) or pulsed-mode operation. Linacs have become an important tool for research in many fields such as high energy physics, nuclear physics, and material science just to name a few. He is studying control algorithms and the development of reliable piezo tuning systems with long lifetime for applications both in CW or pulsed linacs. With the support of the ASET program, Crispin is continuing his research at Fermilab as an engineering physicist, working with collaborators who have extensive resonance-control experience. While at Fermilab he will work to develop algorithms and hardware for his project, and aims to present his results at international conferences such as the International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC), the Linear Accelerator Conference (LINAC), or the International Conference on Superconducting Radiofrequency (SRF). In 2017, Crispin was one of 52 graduate students from across the nation selected for the Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program. The award supported him for up to one year of research under the supervision of a DOE laboratory scientist.

Kalee Fenker, PhD in Nuclear Chemistry, 2017

Kalee Fenker

Kalee (Hammerton) Fenker earned a PhD in nuclear chemistry at Michigan State University. She is currently a staff scientist in the nuclear measurements group at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL). During her time at NSCL from 2013 to 2017, Kalee’s research focused on heavy ion fusion reactions. She looked at how varying the neutron richness of the entrance channel components affected the reaction dynamics. She also built several parallel plate avalanche counters for the Coincidence Fission Fragment Detector, a device built to facilitate this type of research at NSCL. After leaving NSCL, Kalee started working at SRNL and has been there for four years. Her team provides boutique radiochemical analyses for all of the facilities on the Savannah River site and several offsite customers across the U.S. Department of Energy complex. They have specialized radiochemical analyses for over 75 different radioactive isotopes. Kalee said her time at NSCL was instrumental in her career path. She said she uses the nuclear-science knowledge she gained at NSCL each day to help customers understand the radiochemical composition of their products. For Kalee, what stands out most from her time at FRIB/NSCL are all of the people she met while at the laboratory. She said her advisor, Professor Dave Morrissey, went out of his way to help her with her project when she needed assistance. She also values all that she learned while building their equipment in the detector laboratory. Fenker said she met many lifelong friends, including two of her bridesmaids, while at NSCL.

Njema Frazier, PhD in Theoretical Nuclear Physics, 1997

Njema Frazier

Njema Frazier earned her PhD in theoretical nuclear physics from MSU in 1997 under the mentorship of Alex Brown. She focused on theoretical nuclear structure, using the Shell Model to calculate transitions from excited states of sd-shell nuclei. Beyond research, she was active in multiple civic and outreach organizations—at one point serving as the Afterschool Coordinator at the Black Child & Family Institute in Lansing, Michigan. Her interests in physics, policy, and education led her to pursue a career in science policy, and she has worked in the federal government for twenty-one years. In the legislative branch Njema served as a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science. Following that, she joined the Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) where she served as physicist, acting deputy, and acting director for a number of NNSA’s flagship scientific and technical programs established to ensure the United States maintains a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile without explosive nuclear testing. Njema is now a member of the Senior Executive Service and the acting assistant deputy administrator for the Office of Strategic Partnership Programs at NNSA. Njema is a strong STEM promoter and has been featured regularly online, in print, and on TV, including: Diverse Faces of Science, the Grio’s List of 100 History Makers in the Making, the Black Enterprise Hot List, the Essence Power List, the EBONY Power 100 List, and most recently, the Black Girls Rock! Awards, where she was honored as the STEM Tech Recipient for 2017. 

Ania Kwiatkowski, PhD in Physics, 2011

Ania Kwiatkowski

Ania Kwiatkowski received her PhD in physics from MSU in 2011. Her research at NSCL was under the supervision of Georg Bollen at the Penning trap mass spectrometry LEBIT facility. Her thesis work included the high-precisions mass measurement of 32Si (silicon), which provided the most stringent test of the Isobaric Multiplet Mass Equation at the time and she added the new ion manipulation technique called Stored Waveform Inverse Fourier Transform ion excitation to the LEBIT portfolio. As a graduate student at MSU, Ania brought students together to engage them in activities such as the Women and Minorities in the Physical Sciences (WaMPS) program. She continued her career as a postdoctoral researcher at TRIUMF, Canada’s national particle accelerator center, at its TITAN ion trap facility. She then accepted an assistant professorship position at Texas A&M. Ania is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. In 2018, the American Physical Society awarded her Ania with the 2018 Stuart Jay Freedman Award in Experimental Nuclear Physics. The award recognizes outstanding early career experimentalists in nuclear physics. She received the award for “outstanding and innovative contributions to precision mass measurements, commitment to mentoring of young researchers, and leadership in the low energy nuclear physics community.” 

Zach Meisel, PhD in Nuclear Physics, 2015

Zach Meisel

Zach Meisel received a PhD in nuclear physics from MSU in 2015. From 2008-2015, Zach was a research assistant at NSCL where he studied the nuclear physics of extreme stellar environments under the guidance of Hendrik Schatz. Day-to-day work at NSCL included analyzing data and developing components for an advanced charged particle detector. For his thesis experiment, he measured the mass of eighteen nuclei, seven of which were measured for the first time, via the time-of-flight method at NSCL. Zach’s thesis, “Extension of the Nuclear Mass Surface for Neutron-rich Isotopes of Argon through Iron,” won the 2015 MSU Physics Department Sherwood K. Haynes Award for being the most outstanding graduate student in physics or astrophysics. In 2015, Zach continued postdoctoral research at the University of Notre Dame, where his primary responsibilities were commissioning and performing the first science experiments with the St. George Recoil Separator. Zach currently is an associate professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Edwards Accelerator Laboratory at Ohio University, working with the origin of the elements and the behavior of matter at extreme densities and low temperatures. Zach is also a member of the Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics. In 2018, he received a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program award. Zach has an active experimental program at NSCL and will continue it at FRIB.

Scott Suchyta PhD in Chemistry, 2014

Scott Suchyta

Scott Suchyta received a PhD in chemistry from MSU in 2014 for his research at NSCL. He worked with Sean Liddick at NSCL in the Decay Spectroscopy Group. As a graduate student, Scott also engaged with students in other activities such as Women and Minorities in Physical Sciences program (WaMPS). In 2014, Scott continued as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California (UC) Berkeley, working with the Ultra High-Rate Germanium Detector where he measured, recorded, and analyzed data using C++ or Matlab. At UC Berkeley, Scott worked with the COHERENT collaboration where he wrote software (primarily with C++/ROOT) to optimize various neutron-gamma pulse-shape discrimination techniques for liquid scintillator detectors. As a separate effort at UC Berkeley, Scott oversaw the work of several undergraduate research students in the RadWatch program. The students monitored radioactivity in the environment through measurements. Scott additionally initiated a new project to determine the amount of Po-210 (pure alpha emitter) in organic samples. The quantification requires the use of a radioactive tracer, and Scott accordingly established a small radiochemistry lab space implementing proper safety measures for handling radioactive liquids, leading to the first measurements being made. Since 2016, Scott has worked as a senior scientist at the Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) located at Joint Base Andrews. At RSL, DOE radiological/nuclear emergency response efforts are supported, and Scott is currently engaged in the Aerial Measuring System (AMS), Nuclear Search Program (NSP), and Consequence Management (CM) Programs.