Hendrik Schatz

University Distinguished Professor of Physics, JINA-CEE Department Head


Education and training

  • MS, Physics, University of Karlsruhe, 1993
  • PhD, Physics, University of Heidelberg, 1997


The goal of our experimental and theoretical research
program is to understand the nuclear processes that shape
the cosmos by creating elements and generating energy.
The focus is on the most extreme environments thought to
exist in nature: thermonuclear explosions on neutron stars;
neutron star collisions; core collapse supernovae; and the
strange insides of neutron stars, where rare isotopes are
stable and cold fusion is actually happening. Most student
projects in our group cut across experiment and theory,
and across nuclear physics and astrophysics. Experiments
restage at FRIB the same reactions that happen in
astrophysical environments and include opportunities to
use, design, and build new equipment. Theory focuses on
a broad range of astrophysical computer models that can
be used to identify interesting nuclear processes, explore
the impact of new measurements, and compare with
observations. Ultimately we seek to answer the question
of how the incredible variety of elements our world is
made of came about.


I grew up in Lörrach in Germany, located right where
Germany, Switzerland, and France meet. I got interested
in nuclear astrophysics when studying in Karlsruhe,
Germany and went to Notre Dame to do my PhD in that
field. In addition to Notre Dame I performed experiments
at Argonne, IUCF, and TRIUMF. I did a short three-month
postdoc at UC Berkeley in the astronomy department,
before working on storage rings at GSI in Germany, and
then coming to MSU in 1999 to build an experimental
nuclear astrophysics program. I co-founded with
colleagues at Notre Dame and Chicago the Joint Institute
for Nuclear Astrophysics, now JINA-CEE and IReNA.
The goal of these was to create a research environment
where discipline boundaries disappear, and we combine
interdisciplinary expertise across institutions. When
FRIB offered the opportunity for low-energy beams I
got interested in building the SECAR recoil separator,
which is just now being completed and will enable direct
measurements of astrophysical reactions.

How students can contribute as part of my research team

Our group uses a very broad range of detectors, separators,
and spectrometers to answer a variety of open questions.
It is embedded in the JINA-CEE, CeNAM, and IReNA collaborative
networks providing national and international networking
opportunities, including opportunities for research stays
and exchanges (for example to work on a particular
interpretation of experimental results), visits, and many
leadership and professional development opportunities.
The goal in our group is to create an environment where
all students can be successful and can follow their interests
across fields as well as across experiment and theory, while
getting prepared for a broad range of careers in industry,
national laboratories, academia, or nuclear astrophysics. We
fully support and follow the FRIB and Physics Department
code of conduct, as well as the newly developed JINA-CEE
code of conduct.

Scientific publications