FSU top reputation leads to selection to host National Nuclear Physics Summer School

Winston Roberts

Florida State University’s department of physics can boast of a new achievement that will serve to showcase it as one of the top programs in the nation for the study of nuclear physics.

The department has been selected as the host site for the National Nuclear Physics Summer School in 2007. The summer school, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute for Nuclear Theory at the University of Washington, has become something of an institution in the field of nuclear physics in the United States. It is designed for advanced graduate students and beginning postdoctoral researchers in experimental or theoretical nuclear physics; the primary aim is to provide future researchers with a broad perspective in current research in the field. (Read more about it at www.int.washington.edu/NNPSS/.)

Following the selection of FSU to host the Nuclear Physics Summer School, the university’s physics department received a subsequent vote of confidence from the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA), which awarded the department a $5,315 grant to help offset the costs of hosting the summer school. SURA is a consortium of more than 60 universities located in the southeastern United States that seeks to foster collaboration among its member institutions in science and engineering.

Kirby Kemper, FSU’s vice president for Research and a nuclear physicist himself, said the selection of FSU to host the National Nuclear Physics Summer School cements the university’s reputation as a premier research university that attracts some of the top scholars in the United States.

"It is wonderful to see my old department, physics, receiving more recognition as a leader in the field of nuclear physics research," Kemper said. "Just a few months ago we were celebrating the fact that FSU’s graduate program in nuclear physics was ranked 13th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Now, with news of the summer school coming to FSU, it’s clear that we truly have arrived as one of the top programs in the country."

Kemper also praised physics Professor Winston Roberts for his role in steering FSU through the selection process for the summer school and SURA grant.

"Professor Roberts has held positions with both the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, so he is uniquely qualified to help us navigate the federal bureaucracy and make sure our paperwork ends up in the right hands," he said.

Roberts was quick to share the credit with colleagues in the physics department.

"Bringing a viable proposal together wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many faculty members in the Nuclear Physics Group within the physics department," he said. "Details such as locating a suitable lecture room, costing out the excursions, and obtaining access to FSU recreational facilities for the summer-school participants required teamwork. Assistant Professor Volker Crede, with whom I wrote the proposals to host the school and request the SURA grant, deserves particular praise."

A number of universities and research laboratories submit proposals to host the National Nuclear Physics Summer School each year, Roberts said.

"There is strong competition among potential hosts," he said.

"Organizations that have hosted the summer school include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Yale University. So I’m proud that FSU was selected for 2007."

The National Nuclear Physics Summer School has been held annually since 1988 at different sites around the country. It usually attracts between 40 and 50 students per year, with about 80 percent coming from the United States and the rest coming from abroad. By and large, the students are senior graduate students, with a few postdoctoral researchers attending as well.

For additional information about FSU’s program in nuclear science, go to www.physics.fsu.edu/.