Graduate student work

Seize the unique opportunity to do research at a national laboratory located on the campus of a major research university.

What makes us unique

  • The strong interaction between the experimental and theoretical scientists and the frequent visitors and users of the facility creates an open and academically stimulating atmosphere.
  • FRIB is widely recognized for its cutting-edge research in nuclear science, nuclear astrophysics, accelerator physics, and engineering. This is evidenced by the large number of publications in high-quality refereed journals and invited talks at national and international conferences.
  • Most graduate students are financially supported with research assistantships when working on thesis projects. Exceptional students can be awarded an FRIB fellowship.

As the premier rare isotope facility in the United States, FRIB is a high national priority. FRIB figures largely in the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee’s (NSAC) A New Era of Discovery: The 2023 Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science (PDF), released in October 2023. NSAC is a federally chartered advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.

Experimental and theoretical insight gained at FRIB will lead to a comprehensive description of nuclei, elucidate the origin of the elements in the cosmos, provide an understanding of matter in the crust of neutron stars, and establish the scientific foundation for applications of nuclear science to society.

Experimental science and nuclear theory

Graduate students in experimental nuclear science will be involved in all aspects of performing an experiment at FRIB: writing a proposal that will be reviewed by an external Program Advisory Committee, designing an experiment, setting up the hardware, writing data acquisition and analysis code, analyzing, simulating, and interpreting the results, and finally writing a manuscript for a peer-reviewed journal.

Theory students have access to world experts who frequently visit the laboratory and collaborate closely with local faculty.

Accelerator physics

Students in accelerator physics participate in the development of state-of-the-art technologies to create and manipulate beams of charged particles. Students greatly benefit from the in-house expertise and resources associated with running FRIB.

Meaningful work and travel

You will be busy and have wide-ranging experiences as an FRIB Laboratory graduate student. Our graduate students:

  • take an active part in the organization and daily business of FRIB and are represented on most laboratory committees;
  • routinely present their new results at important national and international conferences. This provides exposure to senior colleagues and helps in finding new job opportunities after graduation;
  • administer their own office space, meet weekly, and organize their own seminar series;
  • contribute to many of the outreach activities offered through FRIB; and participate in the governance process of the College of Natural Science and the Council of Graduate Students.

Networking and friendship

FRIB graduate students also are encouraged to participate in some of the many student organizations at MSU. Including:

  • Women and Minorities in the Physical Sciences (WaMPS) is an all-inclusive graduate student organization at Michigan State University that strives to promote diversity in the physical sciences by encouraging women and minorities to pursue the field, as well as working to create an inviting and supportive community for those who are already part of the physical sciences. WaMPS aims to include students from all backgrounds, so the group is comprised of a variety of students in the physics department (and some nuclear chemists). WaMPS is supported by MSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy.
  • Council of Graduate Students (COGS) is the authorized student government on campus representing all graduate/professional students at Michigan State University. Its mission is to promote the academic, social, and economic goals of graduate and professional students. COGS accomplishes its mission through advocacy, innovative programming, and collaboration with other student organizations and the academic and administrative units of the university.

The MSU Office of Admissions website has information about additional student organizations and networking opportunities.