Pawel Danielewicz

Professor of Physics


Education and training

  • MS, Physics, Warsaw University, 1977
  • PhD, Physics, Warsaw University, 1981


My area of research involves studying the central energetic reactions of heavy nuclei, which help test bulk nuclear properties such as the nuclear equation of state. I use semiclassical transport theory to model these reactions, which helps me connect experimental measurements to the bulk properties. Analyzing the final states of these energetic reactions can be complex, so I explore ways to maximize the inference from data. 

One aspect currently of much interest in nuclear matter is the symmetry energy. It describes changes in nuclear energy with changes in the neutron-proton imbalance. By gaining insights into the symmetry energy, we can better understand neutron stars, which have a significant excess of neutrons over protons. To explore symmetry energy, I also study peripheral charge exchange-reactions, where the neutron-proton content of the projectile and target change without altering their mass numbers. 

Ultimately, I aim to apply the Nonequilibrium Green’s Function (NGF) theory to central reactions for a fully quantal transport. So far, I have solved simple models using NGF to determine feasible approximations for a realistic quantal approach.


I have an MSc and PhD in Physics from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Warsaw University in Poland. During my studies, I collaborated with experimental colleagues, which proved useful when I became a postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) in California in 1981. At LBL, I analyzed data from a new accelerator. Later, I became an Assistant Professor at Warsaw University. In 1988, I joined Michigan State University (MSU) as an Associate Professor because of its strong experimental program. At MSU, I act as a liaison for the Partnership of MSU with the African Institutes for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and have taught there for about a month each year since 2015. Additionally, I co-wrote the textbook "Introduction to Nuclear Reactions" with Carlos Bertulani.

How students can contribute as part of my research team

One of the advantages of being part of my research team is the opportunity to collaborate closely with experimentalists, including those at FRIB and external FRIB users.  Such partnerships can result in the immediate relevance of theoretical results and impact experiment preparation and data analysis. The unique aspect of studying energetic central reactions is that experiments gather extensive information beyond the original premise, potentially leading to quick answers to theoretical questions without additional experimental cycles. Regular interaction with data can also be rewarding, as no matter how much the theory advances, the data can still surprise and challenge investigators.

As a student on the team, you would have the chance to model central reactions in transport theory, evaluate the effectiveness of different observables (both new and existing), and advance transport theory to match experimental advancements. Additionally, you could explore direct reactions related to bulk nuclear properties and delve into NGF theory, which has yet to be connected to experiments. Lastly, the team could explore testing bulk properties inferred from lab experiments against known properties of neutron stars, which would be a new direction for our group.

Scientific publications