MSU-led international research network welcomes new Ibero-American partner to advance nuclear astrophysics

EAST LANSING, MI – The International Research Network for Nuclear Astrophysics (IReNA), supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and headquartered at Michigan State University (MSU), brings together nuclear physicists, astronomers, and computational scientists to try to answer a long-standing question in science: Where do the elements that make up our world come from?

Founded in 2019, IReNA continues to expand its global reach for cooperation to advance knowledge in nuclear astrophysics, and now welcomes a new network partner: the Ibero-American Network of Nuclear Astrophysics (IANNA). IReNA and IANNA have joined forces to combine their expertise, resources, and access to cutting-edge technology.

IANNA was created in 2022 to foster collaborations related to nuclear astrophysics between research institutions in Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, and the United States (U.S.). IANNA not only advances the understanding of nuclear reactions in stars and the chemical elements they create and disperse in the cosmos, it also helps with student exchanges and student training across the involved countries.

“The nascent collaboration between IReNA and IANNA will enhance the possibilities for Ibero-American and U.S. researchers to perform important joint experiments at any of the participating institutions,” said Eli Aguilera, senior researcher at the National Institute for Nuclear Research (ININ) in Mexico and founding coordinator of IANNA. “Not only will previous collaborations be extended to a larger group, but also new future collaborations can be explored within the growing research field of nuclear astrophysics. Early-career researchers and students will also benefit from this joint effort.”

The field of nuclear astrophysics is multidisciplinary by nature, and requires significant coordinated international efforts. This new partnership will enable researchers from both IReNA and IANNA to make significant strides in the field by combining access to their unique particle accelerators and computer models of stars and nuclear reactions. Potential participating accelerator laboratories include ININ in Mexico, the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Institute of Physics (IFUNAM) in Mexico, the Radioactive Ion Beams in Brazil (RIBRAS) facility, Acelerador Tandem Argentino (TANDAR) in Argentina, Centro Nacional de Aceleradores (CNA) in Spain, Campus Tecnológico e Nuclear (CTN) in Portugal, the University of Notre Dame Nuclear Science Laboratory in the U.S., and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) in the U.S.

A key player in establishing the connection between IReNA and IANNA has been Michael Wiescher, IReNA co-principal investigator at the University of Notre Dame. “I consider this agreement to be a major accomplishment. For decades, researchers from South and Central America have contributed to the U.S. research effort in nuclear astrophysics. The formation of IANNA and its membership in the IReNA effort will greatly enhance the scientific opportunities and the intellectual exchange for both communities. It will also provide a great opportunity for visitor and student exchange with important educational as well as cultural benefit for both communities,” said Wiescher.

“We are very excited to be joining forces with IANNA. Recent advancements in astronomical multi-messenger observations are making the field of nuclear astrophysics even more exciting, and more rapidly growing. International partnerships like this help us respond quickly to new developments by bringing together experts from relevant disciplines and provide us all with the resources and technology we need to really accelerate science,” said Hendrik Schatz, University Distinguished Professor with faculty appointments at FRIB and in MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of IReNA.

The new partnership will include a series of join research projects, workshops, and opportunities for professional development of early career researchers that will bring together scientists from both networks. The goal is to make important discoveries, share the knowledge gained with the broader scientific community, and train the next generation of nuclear astrophysicists in a unique collaborative and international environment.

IReNA is a National Science Foundation AccelNet Network of Networks. AccelNet is designed to accelerate the process of scientific discovery and prepare the next generation of U.S. researchers for multiteam international collaborations. The AccelNet program supports strategic linkages among U.S. research networks and complementary networks abroad that will leverage research and educational resources to tackle grand scientific challenges that require significant coordinated international efforts. Learn more at

Michigan State University operates the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) as a user facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), supporting the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. Hosting what is designed to be the most powerful heavy-ion accelerator, FRIB enables scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science 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