Heiko Hergert

Associate Professor of Physics, Associate Director for Education


Education and training

  • PhD, Physics, TU Darmstadt, Germany, 2008


Atomic nuclei are among nature’s most fascinating, and at the same time, most confounding objects. They exhibit a rich variety of quantum phenomena, especially if their proton and neutron numbers are heavily unbalanced. Through numerical simulations of nuclei, and their confrontation with the wealth of new experimental data that FRIB will produce, my group seeks to deepen our understanding of nuclear interactions and the quantum mechanics of strongly correlated many-body systems. This will help us to answer scientific questions ranging from the validation of nature’s fundamental symmetries at the smallest scales to the life and death of stars and the origin of elements in the cosmos. On a very practical level, simulations of the structure, dynamics, and chemistry of the nuclei that FRIB can produce will provide important guidance for fundamental experiments, as well as the harvesting of isotopes for use in medicine or other societal applications.


I grew up on a farm in a small town in the German state of Hesse, but my interest in science led me to pursue a career in research. In 2008, I received my doctoral degree from the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany, specializing in nuclear many-body theory. After postdoctoral stays at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (the predecessor of FRIB) and The Ohio State University, I returned to Lansing as an FRIB Theory Fellow in 2014, and joined the faculty in the following year. In addition to computational nuclear physics, I also have research interests and collaborations in general topics of scientific computing, like machine learning or quantum computing.

How students can contribute as part of my research team

My group’s work focuses on the development of novel techniques for tackling the nuclear many-body problem, and their implementation on computers ranging from small workstations to massively parallel supercomputers. Students will receive training in state-of-the-art methods of quantum many-body theory and high-performance computing. Our projects typically focus on the development of new extensions to our methods and their application, often in close collaboration with experimental researchers at FRIB and other facilities. This offers prospective students a broad perspective of the field, and a chance to be immersed in community efforts like the FRIB Theory Alliance or the NUCLEI SciDAC project.

Scientific publications