Skip to content

Diversifying Nuclear Physics and Building New Relationships

According to an American Physical Society study, only 13 percent of all physics undergraduates in 2018 identified as being from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have partnered to build a new fellowship program that aims to encourage a more diverse student population to join the field.

The program, Nuclear Physics in Eastern TN (NPET), launches this summer and will engage undergraduate students from Minority Serving Institutions and promote participation in nuclear physics research. The program is funded by the US Department of Energy, which encourages a diverse group of young scientists to pursue nuclear physics developments that support the agency’s mission.

Nadia Fomin, associate professor of physics, recognized the opportunity to strengthen nuclear physics as a whole by recruiting students from a broad range of backgrounds and experience. Engaging them as undergraduates might well persuade them to pursue graduate degrees in the field and become the professors and national laboratory scientists of the future.

Nadia Fomin

Nadia Fomin

"We’re very excited to meet, work with, and mentor new students," Fomin said. "We want to make sure that nuclear physics is a welcoming community where students from any currently underrepresented group can be successful and happy."

NPET fellows will learn from and work with experts in the field at UT and ORNL. They will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the most sophisticated scientific tools in the world and contribute to a wealth of discovery, ranging from measuring a neutron’s lifetime to investigating the creation of elements in stars.

Fellows will work full-time over 10 weeks in the summer (virtually for 2021) and have a 15-hour per week commitment for the fall and spring when they return to full-time studies at their respective colleges and universities. Fellowships are renewable for up to one year. In addition to research activities, students will participate in a number of career and skills development workshops.

Applicants must be full-time undergraduate physics majors enrolled at a Minority Serving Institution. For a complete list of qualifications and research projects, visit the NPET website.

The application deadline is May 21, 2021.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.