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June 28, 2012

National science panel calls MSU’s FRIB project a top priority

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The National Research Council says Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams project should remain a major priority.

A report issued June 27 by the NRC outlines the accomplishments of the nuclear physics field during the last decade and recommends a strategy for the future, including, as its first recommendation, “the timely completion of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams and the initiation of its physics program.”

The report calls FRIB “a major new strategic investment in nuclear science. It will have unique capabilities and offers opportunities to answer fundamental questions about the inner workings of the atomic nucleus, the formation of the elements in our universe, and the evolution of the cosmos.”

"The National Research Council's reaffirmation of FRIB's importance is welcome news," said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. "It is in the nation’s best interest that the project be completed, not only for the scientific discoveries it will make possible, but for the benefits to society realized through scientific results and technical developments."

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The NRC is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The FRIB project began three years ago under a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and MSU signed on June 8, 2009. Critical Decision 1 was approved on Sept. 1, 2010, establishing the preferred alternative, the associated cost and schedule ranges.

FRIB will be a new national user facility for nuclear science, providing intense beams of rare isotopes to better enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of these isotopes. This will allow researchers to gain deeper understanding into key scientific questions including the origins of stars and the universe. Isotopes discovered may have important applications for medicine, national security, metallurgy and other uses.

The facility also will be critical to preparing the next generation of scientists. MSU’s nuclear physics doctoral program was named the nation’s best by U.S. News and World Report last year, and the prospects of FRIB continuing the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory’s reputation as the world’s top rare isotope facility is helping the university continue to attract world-class students.

For more information on the NRC report, go here.


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.