Heiko Hergert

Associate Professor of Physics


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 is capable of producing 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