More great days for science


Almost six months ago to the day, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science announced Michigan State University would be the site of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or what we have all come to simply call FRIB.

I called that day “a great day for science” as I spoke to the media and MSU’s stakeholders.

While media attention tapered off in the weeks following the announcement, tremendous hard work and productive collaboration between the MSU leadership for FRIB and the Office of Science have taken place behind the scenes. This steady progress has made all of the intervening days great days for science as they have brought the United States closer to having a world-leading facility for the study of rare isotopes.

On June 9, the last six months of work came to fruition in the announcement that a cooperative agreement had been signed. This is a critical step in making FRIB a reality as it establishes the terms and means for the Office of Science to provide funding to MSU for the design and construction of the new facility.

This half-billion dollar project will eventually serve as a research hub for nearly 1,000 scientists from around the world, create as many as 400 new jobs in Michigan, and generate more than $180 million in new state tax revenue.

People frequently ask about the timeline and what’s next. The answer is the schedule is contingent upon review and approval by DOE. MSU is committed to being a good partner and to executing the project safely and efficiently. Right now we are in the environmental review and design phase. Next year we begin the engineering phase. Construction is slated to begin in 2013, and the facility is anticipated to be operational in about a decade.

Even as we focus attention on FRIB, MSU is ensuring that its National Science Foundation–funded National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) continues to be a leading nuclear research user facility. An expansion to NSCL is providing new office and experimental areas, as well as a new low-energy linear accelerator for nuclear astrophysics research. With this addition, MSU will be the only institution in the world capable of doing experiments with fast, stopped, and reaccelerated beams of rare isotopes.

Today, with tours, presentations, and a luncheon, we celebrate both NSCL and FRIB and what they mean to MSU, the United States, and scientists around the globe. Joining us in the celebration today are Steve Koonin, DOE undersecretary for science, and T. James Symons, director of the Nuclear Science Division for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

MSU remains very proud of its extraordinary track record in rare isotope research and of the opportunity to host FRIB. I will continue to update you on the latest FRIB news or you can visit the Web for the very latest at



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