National Nuclear Physics Summer School Proposal - Project Summary

The proposal requests funds to continue the National Summer School in Nuclear Physics, held annually since 1988, for an additional five years. The school would bring together leading researchers to lecture on their specialties to advanced graduate students in experimental and theoretical nuclear physics. The overall goal of the schools is to provide students with a reference frame for defining critical problems of nuclear physics and the most useful methods of analysis of the problems. The intent is to broaden the students's appreciation for and interest in our field while also strengthening them technically. In bringing students together from different parts of nuclear physics, the school also plays an important role in building a nuclear physics community: the school often is the first opportunity for young researchers to interact across subfields.

The school is governed by a national steering committee, appointed by the Executive Committee of the Division of Nuclear Physics, APS. The PIs will work with the steering committee and with school organizers to facilitate the annual schools.

Proposed Project

1. Introduction

This 5-year renewal proposal for the National Summer School in Nuclear Physics recommends continuation of the annual series begun in 1988. This school has been very successful in providing experimental and theoretical graduate students and beginning postdocs with a perspective of nuclear physics as a research field. The main purpose of the school is to help young researchers gain broader exposure to the major themes of our field. This is important both for researchers in small university groups, which may have few opportunities for learning about nuclear physics broadly, and those at major laboratories, where the nuclear physics may be primarily of one "flavor."

Some changes in the school's governance are proposed: 1) We ask that funding be sufficient to allow smaller university groups to organize schools: previously the requirement that the host institution cover all lecturer costs made this difficult. 2) In spring, 1999, the Division of Nuclear Physics of the APS agreed to make the school's steering committee one of its standing committees. This step will help the steering committee remain broadly representative of the community.

The PIs will administer the grant through the Institute for Nuclear Theory (INT). The INT remains willing to help organizers with school administration, as desired. This includes producing a poster, handling mailing, and maintaining data bases.

2. Motivation and History

The challenge of broadly educating young researchers is a daunting one for fields like nuclear physics. Some of our research groups are small. Others may focus on a particular subfield, often because this enhances the overall impact of the group. The field's evolution towards larger facilities means more students work in a user mode, often spending long periods at a national laboratory where one subfield may be emphasized. Thus the student may have very few opportunities to interact with students or senior researchers from subfields other than his own.

Under these conditions students can go through graduate training and postdoctoral experience without developing clear ideas of the important outstanding questions in nuclear physics outside of their specialty. Yet there are broad physics themes and important techniques that do unite our field: a student with too limited a perspective is unlikely to understand this unity or to maximize his personal scientific development. The experimental physicist must know what properties of nuclear and hadronic/electromagnetic/weak interactions are most significant to measure in order to further knowledge in nuclear physics or in other fields that require nuclear physics input. The theoretical student must appreciate better the important criteria for useful models, the significance of reported measurements, and the relevance of nuclear physics to sister fields, such as particle physics, astrophysics, and condensed matter physics.

In Europe, the summer school has proven to be a very successful way to broaden the perspective of students. There are regular schools at Varenna, Italy; at Erice, Italy; and many NATO sponsored schools, including the one at Les Houches, France. The UK Nuclear Physics Summer School and the Nordic Nuclear Physics Summer School are held regularly, and the Finish Summer School often has a strong nuclear component. The Euro Summer School on Exotic Beams is held in Leuven. In Eastern Europe, there are regular schools in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Elsewhere, the Brazilian Andre Swieca Physics Summer School is primarily focused on nuclear physics, while the ANU Australian Summer School often has a strong nuclear component.

In this country the NSF has sponsored regular advanced schools in the 1960's, an ad hoc nuclear physics school in 1978 and 1981, and several series since 1983. In particular, in 1988, a community group - which included the PIs of this proposal and some members of the current steering committee - began the current series. Initially it was supported year-by-year with volunteer organizers, who had little administrative support. The difficulty of this mode of operation contributed to the failure of the 1994 effort.

It was then that the steering committee, with a strong endorsement from the Executive Committee of the Division of Nuclear Physics, opened discussions with the NSF and INT to provide more stability to the school. The NSF agreed to provide a 5-year grant to support participant costs at the school. The INT agreed to administer the grant at no cost and to provide administrative support to school organizers: poster production, mailing, data base services, etc. The INT also agreed to act as a back-up host for the school, if no other volunteer could be found, and to provide supplementary funding to any schools held in the Seattle area (provided by the UW Physics Department's Uehling Fund). The INT hosted the 1995 and 1996 schools and is renewing the above commitments for the lifetime of the present proposal.

In recent years there have been ad hoc schools in nuclear physics organized by CEBAF (annually) and by Brookhaven (1998). (No BNL school is scheduled for 1999.) These schools are sponsored by the host laboratories and focus on research issues relevant to those laboratories. There has also been an annual school at TRIUMF, but it was discontinued in 1999.

3. Requirements of the school

There are a number of important considerations to produce a successful advanced study school. First, one needs the best lecturers from the field. Second, the school needs a corps of students who have prospects for research careers and are at the appropriate level to develop a perspective of the field of nuclear physics as a whole. Third, the format of the school must allow enough time for the students to reflect on the material presented and to have thoughtful conversations among themselves and with the lecturers.

3.1 Location

It is important that the school be held in an attractive setting. The top researchers in a field are much more willing to serve as lecturers, if the environment is pleasant and conducive to informal discussion. This is a major feature in the success of the European schools. If the setting is nice, it not only attracts good lecturers, but also encourages them to stay for longer periods. The sites, organizers, and lecturers for the current series are given below:

1988: Corvallis, OR (27 June - 8 July)

1989: Gull Lake, MI (31 July - 11 August)

Organizer: Phil Siemens

Organizer: James Vary

Lecturers: Jerry Cooperstein

Lecturers: Dirk Walecka

Bill Donnelly

James Friar

Jochen Heisenberg

Steve Koonin

Bill Lynch

Teng-Lek Khoo

Miklos Gyulassy

Eric Adelberger


1990: Santa Cruz, CA (5-17 August)

1991: Madison, WI (17-28 June)

Organizers: Wick Haxton/Jorgen Randrup

Organizer: Baha Balantekin

Lecturers: Baha Balantekin

Lecturers: Eric Adelberger

Stan Brodsky

Barry Holstein

George Fuller

Franco Iachello

Shoji Nagamiya

Bill Zajc

John Negele

Gerry Brown (Guest Lecture)


1992: Corvallis, OR (5-18 July)

1993: Raleigh, NC (11-24 July)

Organizer: Steve Vigdor

Organizers: Berndt Müller/Russel Roberson

Lecturers: Tom Bowles

Lecturers: Jerzy Dudek

John Millener

James Friar

Bob McKeown

Johanna Stachel

Brian Serot

Dirk Walecka

Phil Siemens

John Wilkerson

Cheung Ji (Guest lecture)

Roxanne Springer (Guest lecture)


1995: Seattle, WA (18-30 June)

1996: Pack Forest, WA (10-21 June)

Organizer: Wick Haxton

Organizer: George Bertsch

Lecturers: Gerry Brown

Lecturers: Arthur Champagne

Stuart Freedman

David Dean

David Kaplan

Robert Janssens

Boris Kayser

Ruprecht Machleidt

Joe Ginocchio

Berndt Müller

Michael Musolf

Ismael Zahed



1997: New Haven, CT (4-15 August)

1998: Gull Lake, MI (26 July - 8 August)

Organizer: Rick Casten

Organizers: Wolfgang Bauer/Alex Brown

Lecturers: Donald Geessaman

Lecturers: George Fuller

John Harris

Gregers Hansen

Bradley Meyer

Roy Holt

Witek Nazarewicz

Volker Koch

Bradley Sherril

Scott Pratt

David Warner


1999: San Diego, CA (28 June - 9 July)

Organizer: George Fuller

Lecturers: A. Baha Balantekin

Brad Filippone

Wick Haxton

Elizabeth Jenkins

Steve Koonin

Achim Richter

Thomas Schäfer

Another environmental requirement of the school is that the students and lecturers have many opportunities to interact informally as well as in the lecture hall. An isolated setting with housing and meals taken together provides the ideal in this respect. This can be achieved with a conference center in a vacation location, such as the 1996 Pack Forest site near Mt. Rainier. Schools held on university campuses can also meet the conditions, if careful arrangements are made. For example, separate living and dining quarters were provided by UC Santa Cruz for the 1990 school.

Recent National Nuclear Physics Summer Schools tried to achieve these site goals while, at the same time, encouraging a variety of universities and individuals to take on the role of organizer. At times, these two goals require a compromise: one role of the steering committee is to use its experience to optimize such choices.

The first school of the new 5-year grant period (2000) has been approved by the steering committee. It will be organized by Wick Haxton and Larry McLerran at UC Santa Cruz. This is an example of a site that provides, at reasonable cost, a somewhat rural setting with common dining and housing facilities.

3.2 Lecture format

Previous schools have been successful with the following format, which we propose to continue. The school is held for a 12-day period, with lectures on weekday mornings. Students arrive Sunday afternoon and depart midday Friday. This allows five to seven lecturers to participate, taking about 4 lectures apiece. At this pace, the lecture material is presented in a way that can be genuinely useful to someone learning the subject. The students also have an opportunity to deliver seminars on their own research. These sessions, which have proven very popular, are organized and chaired by the students, a choice that promotes discussion.

The school attendance will be limited to no more than 50. This number is only partly dictated by space and financing limitations. The number cannot be made much higher and still preserve an informal and lively atmosphere, in which the participants ask questions and take part in the discussion. With 50 students each year, there are also enough places that no nuclear physics graduate students near completing their Ph.D.s would need to be excluded.

3.3 The students

The school can only accomplish its purpose if it is attended by students capable of becoming career researchers in nuclear physics. An important part of the organization of the school has to be the recruitment of these individuals. It is essential that the organizer of the school, members of the steering committee, and the grant PIs make strong personal efforts to recruit students by bringing the school to the attention of their colleagues throughout the country. Other mechanisms for recruiting include a poster (which is sent to both individuals and research groups and universities) and advertisements in the Division of Nuclear Physics newsletter (both hard copy and emailed to the membership), in the DOE DNP Monthly Activities Report, in Nuclear Physics News (the European newsletter), and in the INT's newsletter.

Students can only be expected to attend if their travel costs are covered. In past schools, cost sharing between the school and the research group of the student's home university worked out well to support the participants. With some contribution to the support from home institutions, only students who are regarded by their professors as ready for the advanced school will be encouraged to attend. Typically the NSF grant has provided about 75% of local student costs, with the remainder plus the travel costs coming from the student's research group/university.

3.4 Modifications for 2000-2004

A number of steps have been taken to improve the school during the next five years (2000-2004). These are summarized in the following:

a) To help the steering committee remain broadly representative of the nuclear physics community, it has been taken under the wing of the Executive Committee of the DNP. As a DNP standing committee, new members will be chosen by the Executive Committee. The steering committee consists of eight regular members serving four-year terms, plus the grant PI. (Barrett will take this duty for 2000-2004.) Thus the Executive Committee will replace two members each year, generally choosing as replacements one experimentalist and one theorist.

Each year the steering committee will elect from among its first- and second-year members a vice-chair, who will become chair and past-chair in successive years.

b) To provide a longer lead time for organizing future schools, the steering committee will choose new organizers and sites two years in advance of the school. This procedure was put into effect this past year: the Haxton/McLerran proposal has been accepted for 2000.

A request for new proposals, which are received by the steering committee chair, has appeared in INT's February newsletter for the past five years. In future years we intend to use the DNP newsletter as well. Recruiting efforts by members of the steering committee are also very important and effective.

c) The INT has constructed a web site to advertise the school and to serve as a collective memory for the community ( It includes a summary of the school's procedures, the 1995-99 NSF proposal, the programs of the past schools (1988-98), the history of the steering committee, and information for organizers. In addition, it contains the poster for the current school. We will soon post the final reports for the 1995-99 schools.

d) The INT will endeavor to put convenient software in place so that lecture notes and/or transparencies can be scanned onto the home page. This will allow students to refer back to the lectures they have heard and may allow nonstudents to make use of the lecture materials.

We do not plan to ask lecturers to write up their talks. This is a large undertaking and would diminish our ability to attract the best lecturers, who are often very busy.

e) Good sites and organizers were found for the 1995-8 schools: The University of Washington (Seattle) (1995); the Pack Forest retreat (Mt. Rainier) (1996); Yale University (1997); and Gull Lake (1998). The 1995-99 NSF proposal required the host institution to cover the costs of the speakers in addition to ancillary costs, such as a reception, weekend outings, local secretarial support, etc. The speaker costs can range up to $10K. As very few smaller groups can afford this expense, it is not surprising that the volunteer hosts for the 1995-8 (Seattle, Yale, MSU) were larger University groups.

In 1999 an attractive site (UC San Diego) was found, but the organizer, George Fuller, is a single investigator. He agreed to organize the school only after the NSF expressed its willingness to provide supplemental support.

We believe the 1999 school has to be the model for the next five years. It will make the National Nuclear Physics Summer School a true community activity, allowing both small and large groups to act as organizers. It will increase the number of attractive sites and good organizers that the Steering Committee can choose among.

4. Leadership and oversight of the schools

4.1 The organizer

It is clear that a well-organized school requires a lot of work and effort by some individual. This is the designated organizer of the school. He/she prepares the program of lecturers (subject to the approval of the steering committee), selects the students to attend, and manages the day-to-day activities of the school. The organizer also has the main responsibility for recruitment of students. (If requested, the organizer will be assisted by one of the experienced workshop coordinators of the INT, who will handle correspondence, do financial projections, prepare and mail the poster, handle advertising, and answer any travel or visa questions.) The organizer will be chosen by the steering committee from community volunteers, as described previously.

4.2 Steering committee

The new procedures for the steering committee - including the role of the DNP - has been described earlier. The current and past membership of the steering committee are:



Baha Balantekin

Bruce Barrett (Vice Chair)

Bruce Barrett

George Bertsch (NSF Grant Holder)

Virginia Brown

Virginia Brown

Wick Haxton

Walter Henning

Berndt Müller

Berndt Müller

Jorgen Randrup

Jorgen Randrup (Chair)

Phil Siemens (NSF Grant Holder)

Jim Vary

Jim Vary

Vic Viola

Steve Vigdor

Steve Vigdor

Vic Viola


1996-97 (1 August '96-31 July '97):

1997-98 (1 August '97-30 Sept. '98)

Sam Austin

Sam Austin

Bruce Barrett (Chair)

Baha Balantekin

George Bertsch (NSF Grant Holder)

Bruce Barrett (Chair)

Walter Henning (Vice Chair)

George Bertsch (NSF Grant Holder)

Berndt Müller

Walter Henning (Vice Chair)

Jorgen Randrup

Barbara Jacek

Brian Serot

Berndt Müller

Steve Vigdor

Brian Serot

Vic Viola

Steve Vigdor


1998-99 (1 August 1998 - 30 Sept. 1998):

Walter Henning (Chair)

Sam Austin

Brian Serot

Barbara Jacek

Baha Balantekin

Bruce Barrett (Past Chair)

Betsy Beise

Witek Nazarewicz

5. Final reports

The final reports for the 1995-98 schools are available from the INT. The web site contains information on recent schools: click on the year to pull up the lecturers, students, school photos, information on the organizer, etc.