Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN)

PAN is a free week-long program for current high school students.

COVID-19 update: Both Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame have cancelled in-person K-12 summer programs for 2020. We are currently investigating alternative options and will announce our plans by April 20th.

It is sponsored by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics - Center for the Evolution of the Elements (JINA-CEE) which is a Physics Frontier Center funded by the National Science Foundation.

The program takes place at one of two world leading nuclear physics laboratories: Nuclear Science Laboratory located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory located on the campus of Michigan State University. Lectures and experiments are led by NSL and NSCL faculty, staff, and students. The program introduces participants to the fundamentals of the extremely small domain of atomic nuclei and its connection to the extremely large domain of astrophysics and cosmology.


The PAN @ Notre Dame Experience

  • Be introduced to the fascinating fields of astrophysics, cosmology, and nuclear science through lectures and tours.
  • Perform a series of experiments using state of the art experimental equipment in Notre Dame's Jordan Hall of Science.
  • Experience the college atmosphere at a prestigious university.
  • Learn experimental techniques used by the experimental nuclear astrophysics community through the use of various gamma, neutron and charged particle detectors.
  • See previous presentations on YouTube!
  • Learn more in the PAN @ ND FAQ.

The PAN @ Michigan State Experience

  • Learn about research in one of the top rare-isotope laboratories in the world.
  • Get introduced to the fascinating fields of astrophysics, cosmology, and nuclear science.
  • Perform your own nuclear physics experiments.
  • Experience the atmosphere of one of the biggest university campuses in the country.
  • The 2020 program will only include weeks for high school students, but check back in the future for the teacher program!
  • Learn more on the PAN @ MSU FAQ page.

Application Instructions:

A complete application requires submission of a pre-application (complete this as soon as possible), an application, and two teacher recommendations. We use google forms to collect the information and send email notifications.

Eligibility: We welcome U.S. students who are currently in high school to apply to both locations. International students are not eligible. There are no exceptions.



Deadline Extended due to COVID-19: Applications must be submitted by April 30th, 2020 by midnight Eastern Standard Time to be considered. Teachers are allowed to submit recommendations until May 1, 2020

Details on Teacher Recommendations:

1) Before you submit the pre-application, you should add to your safe senders list and ask your teachers who will provide references to do the same. Emails are sent through google so they are sometimes treated as spam.
Recommended: Teachers in math/science, teachers who know you well, teachers who can give a very positive recommendation. If you are homeschooled, the parent who is your primary instructor can serve as one reference. The second should be an adult instructor e.g. in sports, music, clubs, etc.

2) Upon submission of this form, your references will immediately receive an email with instructions for submitting recommendations.

3) After you have submitted this form, you should check with your teachers to ensure that they received an email with instructions for completing the recommendation. If not, have them check spam/junk folder and filters because this email is automatically generated.

4) You will receive an email each time you submit a form or a teacher submits a recommendation on your behalf. Please do not email us to ask if we have received your materials.



PAN student: "Fantastic all-around program. It's the best summer camp I've ever attended. It is a real treat to be around people who want to chat about math and science and who are smarter than I am. It is in some ways a small taste of college."

PAN student: "Learning with a group of peers interested in science the way I am was one of the best educational experiences I've had so far!"

Program Contact

Michael Kilburn, Notre Dame Contact 574-631-5326

Zach Constan, MSU Contact 517-908-7363