New Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science recommends FRIB enhancements to forward the field

06 October 2023

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) figures largely in the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee’s (NSAC) newly released A New Era of Discovery: The 2023 Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science.”

The new plan, released on 4 October, provides a roadmap for advancing the nation's nuclear science research programs over the next decade. It is the 8th long range plan published by NSAC since 1979.

NSAC is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and composed of 20 members who represent a range of subject matter expertise in nuclear physics. The major programs, accelerators, instruments, and experiments that enable nuclear physics research in the U.S. are primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). To ensure that these federal investments reflect the national interest, the two agencies regularly solicit input from practicing nuclear physicists through NSAC.

The plan highlights the scientific opportunities of nuclear physics today to maintain world-leadership in the context of four different budget scenarios and details progress since the last long range plan. The document also features the impact of nuclear science on other fields and applications of the research that benefit society.

The plan’s first recommendation affirms that the nuclear science community’s highest priority is to capitalize on the extraordinary opportunities for scientific discovery made possible by the substantial and sustained investments of the United States government. FRIB and its user community and the FRIB Theory Alliance membership are directly impacted by the associated requests for an increase in research funding, the continued effective operations of FRIB, a compensation for graduate researchers commensurate with the cost of living, and the provision of resources to ensure a respectful and safe environment for all.

FRIB400—an energy upgrade to expand the already broad scientific reach of FRIB—is explicitly mentioned in the executive summary following Recommendation IV, which calls for investments in additional projects and new strategic opportunities that advance discovery science. Instruments aspired by the community for FRIB, such as the High Rigidity Spectrometer, the Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking Array, the FRIB Decay Station, and the Isochronous Spectrometer with Large Acceptance, feature in the science section of the long range plan.

FRIB hosted a long range plan update event on 6 October—one of 21 sites simultaneously hosting events that collectively represented FRIB’s 1,800 scientific users. FRIB enables scientific research with fast, stopped and reaccelerated rare isotope beams, supporting a user community of 1,800 scientists from around the world. 

“The 2023 Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science details a strategic path forward for nuclear science, and highlights FRIB’s important contributions toward advancing the field and ensuring the nation’s continued leadership,” said Thomas Glasmacher, FRIB Laboratory Director. “We thank the committee for their diligent work in preparing this forward-thinking plan that will drive our field and guide our focus for the next decade.”

Nuclear physicists lead the nation’s journey of discovery into the quarks and gluons that make up the protons and neutrons and atomic nuclei that build our visible universe. They investigate the nucleus of the atom at the heart of all matter, as well as the birth, life, and death of stars, and the mysterious and fleeting neutrino. Vital cutting-edge research and applications essential to national security, medicine, and the environment are the product of nuclear physicists working to expand our knowledge of the past, present, and future of our fascinating universe.

Developing the plan

On July 11, 2022, DOE and NSF charged NSAC with conducting the study of the opportunities and priorities for U.S. nuclear physics research and with crafting a new long range plan.

In the fall of 2022, town hall events were held to foster input for the new plan and to facilitate discussion among nuclear physicists. The town halls solicited and received numerous white papers for consideration, covering the subfields (1) quantum chromodynamics, (2) nuclear structure, reactions, and astrophysics, and (3) fundamental symmetries, neutrons, and neutrinos. Other groups also provided input related to crosscutting research and applications, such as quantum information science and technology for nuclear physics.

Dozens of nuclear physicists from across the nation developed the plan document with community-wide input. The development process included open forums, ongoing dialogue and grassroots input, which were embraced by the many working physicists in nuclear science. “I am grateful to the many physicists who engaged with the process to provide input,” said Dodge. “The committee that developed the plan worked incredibly hard in a collegial and respectful manner, culminating in today’s approval.”

In addition to providing a framework for the coordinated advancement of the nation's nuclear science research programs, the plan features detailed information about the field’s national and international research programs and partnerships, describes the initiatives to advance science through cross-discipline collaboration, and details how efforts to promote and sustain a diverse, equitable and inclusive nuclear science workforce are fully integrated into every aspect of the vision for the future of U.S. nuclear science.

“Every five to eight years, the federal agencies charge the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee to develop a plan to ensure the nation’s leadership in nuclear science, based on community input. Today NSAC approved the 2023 Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science, after over a year’s work and difficult choices,” said NSAC Chairperson Gail Dodge, a nuclear physicist and Dean of the College of Sciences at Old Dominion University, on 4 October upon the plan’s release. “The 2023 Long Range Plan lays out a compelling vision for nuclear science in the United States under multiple budget scenarios and informed by the international context. Implementation of the Long Range Plan’s recommendations will maintain the nation’s leadership and workforce in nuclear science,” she added. “What comes out of these discussions is a plan that will serve as input to DOE and NSF as they consider their research funding plans and priorities.”

For more information, visit for timely updates on the 2023 planning process.

Read more:

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

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 165 years. One of the world's leading research universities, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery to make a better, safer, healthier world for all while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 400 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.