FRIB researchers named 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows

Three scientists who will perform research at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

Chris L. Fryer

Chris L. Fryer, a computational physics and methods scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), was elected as an AAAS Fellow for “distinguished contributions to computational and theoretical astrophysics.”

Fryer earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley. He received his PhD in astronomy from the University of Arizona. His primary astrophysics studies include the engines, progenitors and emission from core-collapse supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, neutron star formation and populations, and chemical evolution and nucleosynthesis. For his work on core-collapse supernovae, he was named an American Physical Society Fellow. He has also worked extensively in laboratory astrophysics studying turbulence, radiation transport, radiation hydrodynamics, and atomic opacities. For his combined astrophysics and laboratory physics work, he was named a LANL Fellow and received the E. O. Lawrence Award.

Fryer has worked on a variety of physics and astrophysics projects. He is a widely recognized authority in astrophysics and is a former Feynman Fellow, and he has been at LANL for 15 years. He is recognized for his supernova core collapse modeling work, able to model, predict, and explain observations (e.g. from NASA’s Swift mission), which broke ground by moving to three-dimensional modeling assimilation. He has made valuable contributions to aid NASA in defining future astrophysics missions, and he sustains a wide range of collaborations with broader physics facilities. He is also involved in nuclear stockpile science, extending computer code capabilities, especially in the areas of verification and validation.

Alexandra Gade

Alexandra Gade, professor of physics at FRIB and in Michigan State University’s (MSU) Department of Physics and Astronomy, was elected as an AAAS Fellow for “distinguished contributions to the field of nuclear physics, particularly for gamma-ray spectroscopy of rare isotopes and elucidating the structural properties of nuclei.”

Gade joined MSU’s faculty in 2004. Her work includes significant service to the nuclear science community. She has been a member of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee to the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. As chief scientist of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) Gade has played a major role in assembling white papers on rare isotope research and defining critical instrumentation needed in the FRIB era. She has served on national and international committees, including American Physical Society committees and advisory committees of the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) at Argonne National LaboratoryGANIL (France), TRIUMF (Canada), RIKEN Nishina Center (Japan), and GSI/FAIR (Germany).

Gade has published more than 250 articles in referenced journals and given more than 75 invited talks at conferences and workshops and more than 25 invited seminars and colloquia. She is an excellent mentor and adviser, having graduated eight PhD students and mentored 10 postdoctoral fellows who all moved on to faculty and staff positions in the field. Four PhD graduate students and three postdoctoral fellows currently work in her group.

Her research interests are in the study of the structure of the atomic nucleus at the extremes of neutron-proton asymmetry. Short-lived, rare isotopes composed of many more neutrons than protons, for example, often reveal surprising properties. Their shape and the excitation pattern as well as the energy and occupation of the nucleus’ quantum mechanical orbits by protons and neutrons is significantly altered as compared to expectations based on the well-known properties of stable isotopes of the elements found in nature. Since short-lived nuclei cannot be made into targets, her research group uses nuclear reactions induced by beams of rare isotopes to probe such changes in the nuclear structure. These reactions include scattering as well as processes that remove or add protons or neutrons to a rare isotope. This then allows researchers to track the exciting modifications of the structure of short-lived nuclei on the level of the neutron and proton quantum mechanical orbits that make up the nucleus in a microscopic picture.

Michael D. Sevilla

Michael D. Sevilla, a Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at Oakland University (OU), was elected as an AAAS Fellow for “distinguished contributions to the field of radiation effects on biomolecules using computational chemistry, particularly for work employing innovative applications of modern theoretical methods.”

Sevilla earned his PhD at the University of Washington. He joined the OU faculty in 1970. During his many years on staff, he has served as the chair of the Department of Chemistry and as an acting associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. He has also served as president of the Radiation Research Society. An internationally known radiation chemist, Sevilla has received more than $4 million in research grants since his arrival at OU. His laboratory is devoted to looking at fundamental properties of DNA and the processes involved in radiation damage to DNA from the molecular standpoint. Sevilla and the students who work in his lab apply physical chemistry techniques, especially electron paramagnetic resonance and computational chemistry to look at biologically important systems. Sevilla’s research into how radiation damages DNA is funded by the National Cancer Institute, as it holds promise as a process to eradicate tumors. NSCL facilities have played a major role in Sevilla’s National Institutes of Health-supported research program for over the past 20 years as ion beams are increasingly important in cancer therapy. Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, in addition to senior staffers, all contribute to the research effort. Sevilla’s lab is recognized as an environment that is conducive to innovative research and open discussion. In addition to his research, Sevilla continues to teach courses in chemistry at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

This year, 489 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on 27 November 2020. A virtual Fellows Forum—an induction ceremony for the new Fellows—will be held on 13 February 2021.

MSU establishes and operates FRIB as a user facility supporting the mission of the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC). The DOE-SC is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. See