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Dr. Witold (Witek) Nazarewicz

John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor
FRIB Chief Scientist

Theoretical Nuclear Physics
NSCL Office 2059
Phone: (517) 908-7326
e-mail: witek at


Nuclear Structure

Atomic nuclei, the core of matter and the fuel of stars, are self-bound collections of protons and neutrons (nucleons) that interact through forces that have their origin in quantum chromo-dynamics. Nuclei comprise 99.9% of all baryonic matter in the Universe. The complex nature of the nuclear forces among protons and neutrons yields a diverse and unique variety of nuclear phenomena, which form the basis for the experimental and theoretical studies. Developing a comprehensive description of all nuclei, a long-standing goal of nuclear physics, requires theoretical and experimental investigations of rare atomic nuclei, i.e. systems with neutron-to-proton ratios larger and smaller than those naturally occurring on earth. Key scientific themes that are being addressed by nuclear physics research are captured by four overarching questions:

The main area of my professional activity is the theoretical description of those exotic, short-lived nuclei that inhabit remote regions of nuclear landscape. This research invites a strong interaction between nuclear physics, many-body-problem, and high- performance computing.

Quantum Many-Body Problem

Heavy nuclei are splendid laboratories of many-body science. While the number of degrees of freedom in heavy nuclei is large, it is still very small compared to the number of electrons in a solid or atoms in a mole of gas. Nevertheless, nuclei exhibit behaviors that are emergent in nature and present in other complex systems. For instance, shell structure, symmetry breaking phenomena, collective excitations, and superconductivity are found in nuclei, atomic clusters, quantum dots, small metallic grains, and trapped atom gases.

Although the interactions of nuclear physics differ from the electromagnetic interactions that dominate chemistry, materials, and biological molecules, the theoretical methods and many of the computational techniques to solve the quantum many-body problems are shared. Examples are ab-initio and configuration interaction methods, and the Density Functional Theory, used by nuclear theorists to describe light and heavy nuclei and nucleonic matter.

Physics of Open Systems

Today, much interest in various fields of physics is devoted to the study of small open quantum systems, whose properties are profoundly affected by environment, i.e., continuum of decay channels. Although every finite fermion system has its own characteristic features, resonance phenomena are generic; they are great interdisciplinary unifiers. In the field of nuclear physics, the growing interest in theory of open quantum systems is associated with experimental efforts in producing weakly bound/unbound nuclei close to the particle drip-lines, and studying structures and reactions with those exotic systems. In this context, the major problem for nuclear theory is a unification of structure and reaction aspects of nuclei, that is based on the open quantum system many-body formalism. Solution of this challenging problem has been advanced recently through the new-generation continuum shell model approaches, in particular the Gamow Shell Model based on the Berggren ensemble.

Physics of FRIB

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams will be a world-leading laboratory for the study of nuclear structure, reactions and astrophysics. Experiments with intense beams of rare isotopes produced at FRIB will guide us toward a comprehensive description of nuclei, elucidate the origin of the elements in the cosmos, help provide an understanding of matter in neutron stars and establish the scientific foundation for innovative applications of nuclear science to society. FRIB will be essential for gaining access to key regions of the nuclear chart, where the measured nuclear properties will challenge established concepts, and highlight shortcomings and needed modifications to current theory. Conversely, nuclear theory will play a critical role in providing the intellectual framework for the science at FRIB, and will provide invaluable guidance to FRIB’s experimental programs.

Teaching at MSU

Current classes:

Past classes:

Brief Vita

Dr. Witold Nazarewicz is both a John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Physics at Michigan State University, and a professor of physics at Warsaw University, Poland. He is also a Corporaste Fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Physics Division. During 1999-2012 he served as the Scientific Director of the ORNL Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility. He has held several visiting positions, including professorships at Lund University, University of Cologne, Kyoto University, University of Liverpool, University of the West of Scotland, and Peking University.

Dr. Nazarewicz is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the U.K. Institute of Physics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was named a 2008 Carnegie Centenary Professor by the Carnegie Trust in Scotland; received Honorary Doctorates from University of the West of Scotland in 2009 (see write-ups from UWS and DailyRecord) and University of York in 2019 (see the UoY announcement and graduation broadcast); was awarded the 2012 Tom W. Bonner Prize from the American Physical Society (see write-ups from APS and UT Physics, as well as an interview with Panorama, Polish TV2 News); was named the 2012 Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Distinguished Scientist and 2013 UT-Battelle (ORNL) Corporate Fellow, ORNL., and was awarded the G.N. Flerov Prize of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research for theoretical studies of the atomic and nuclear properties of the heaviest elements.

Dr. Nazarewicz is the author of nine review papers and more than 420 refereed publications in scientific journals, with more than 33,000 citations and h-index of 96 (Web of Science) and 111 (Google Scholar). He has also made more than 170 contributions to major conferences, published in their respective proceedings. He has given ~220 invited talks at major international conferences and more than 250 invited seminars and colloquia. Dr. Nazarewicz has helped organize ~70 meetings and conferences and presently serves on 12 professional committees and editorial boards.

Professor Nazarewicz's Full CV

Complete List of Professor Nazarewicz's Papers

List of Professor Nazarewicz's Talks

Selected Publications

"Microscopic Study of the High-Spin Behaviour in Selected A 80 Nuclei," W. Nazarewicz, J. Dudek, R. Bengtsson, T. Bengtsson and I. Ragnarsson, Nucl. Phys. A435, 397 (1985).

"Structure of Superdeformed Bands in the A~150 Mass Region," W. Nazarewicz, R. Wyss and A. Johnson, Nucl. Phys. A503, 285 (1989).

"Natural-Parity States in Superdeformed Bands and Pseudo-SU(3) Symmetry at Extreme Conditions," W. Nazarewicz, P.J. Twin, P. Fallon and J.D. Garrett, Phys. Rev. Lett. 64, 1654 (1990).

"Dynamical Symmetries, Multiclustering and Octupole Susceptibility in Super- and Hyperdeformed Nuclei," W. Nazarewicz and J. Dobaczewski, Phys. Rev. Lett. 68, 154 (1991).

"Nuclear Shell Structure at Particle Drip Lines," J. Dobaczewski, I. Hamamoto, W. Nazarewicz, and J.A. Sheikh, Phys. Rev. Lett. 72, 981 (1994).

"Intrinsic Reflection Asymmetry in Atomic Nuclei," P. Butler and W. Nazarewicz, Rev. Mod. Phys. 68, 349 (1996).

"Shape coexistence and triaxiality in the superheavy nuclei," S. Cwiok, P.H. Heenen, and W. Nazarewicz, Nature 433, 705 (2005).

"Shell model in the complex energy plane," N. Michel, W. Nazarewicz, M. Ploszajczak, and T. Vertse, J. Phys. G (Topical Review) 36, 013101 (2009).

"The limits of the nuclear landscape," J. Erler, N. Birge, M. Kortelainen, W. Nazarewicz, E. Olsen, A.M. Perhac, and M. Stoitsov, Nature 486, 509 (2012).

"Information content of a new observable: The case of the nuclear neutron skin," P.-G. Reinhard and W. Nazarewicz, Phys. Rev. C 81, 051303(R) (2010).

"Nuclear energy density optimization: Large deformations," M. Kortelainen, J. McDonnell, W. Nazarewicz, P.-G. Reinhard, J. Sarich, N. Schunck, M.V. Stoitsov, and and S. M. Wild, Phys. Rev. C 85, 024304 (2012).

"Neutron and weak-charge distributions of the 48Ca nucleus," G. Hagen, A. Ekström, C. Forssén, G. R. Jansen, W. Nazarewicz, T. Papenbrock, K. A. Wendt, S. Bacca, N. Barnea, B. Carlsson, C. Drischler, K. Hebeler, M. Hjorth-Jensen, M. Miorelli, G. Orlandini, A. Schwenk, and J. Simonis, Nature Physics 12, 186 (2016).

" Pairing Nambu-Goldstone modes within nuclear density functional theory", N. Hinohara and W. Nazarewicz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 152502 (2016).

"Challenges in nuclear structure theory," W. Nazarewicz, J. Phys. G 43, 044002 (2016).

"Electron and Nucleon Localization Functions of Oganesson: Approaching the Thomas-Fermi Limit," P. Jerabek, B. Schuetrumpf, P. Schwerdtfeger, and W. Nazarewicz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 053001 (2018).

"The limits of nuclear mass and charge, W. Nazarewicz, Nature Phys. 14, 537 (2018).

" Colloquium: Superheavy elements: Oganesson and beyond, S. A. Giuliani, Z. Matheson, W. Nazarewicz, E. Olsen, P.-G. Reinhard, J. Sadhukhan, B. Schuetrumpf, N. Schunck, and P. Schwerdtfeger, Rev. Mod. Phys. 91, 011001 (2019).

"Neutron Drip Line in the Ca Region from Bayesian Model Averaging, L. Neufcourt, Y. Cao, W. Nazarewicz, E. Olsen, and F. Viens, Phys. Rev. Lett. 122, 062502 (2019).

"Convenient location of a near-threshold proton-emitting resonance in 11-B, J. Okolowicz, M. Ploszajczak, and W. Nazarewicz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 124, 042502 (2020).

"Information content of the parity-violating asymmetry in 208-Pb, P.-G. Reinhard, X. Roca-Maza, and W. Nazarewicz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 127, 232501 (2021).

"Neutron Evidence of Two-Source King Plot Nonlinearity in Spectroscopic Search for New Boson, J. Hur, D. P. L. Aude Craik, E. Knyazev, I. Counts, L. Caldwell, C. Leung, S. Pandey, J. C. Berengut, A. Geddes, W. Nazarewicz, P.-G. Reinhard, A. Kawasaki, H. Jeon, W. Jhe, and V. Vuletic, Phys. Rev. Lett. 128, 163201 (2022).

"Colloquium: Machine Learning in Nuclear Physics, A. Boehnlein, M. Diefenthaler, C. Fanelli, M. Hjorth-Jensen, T. Horn, M. P. Kuchera, D. Lee, W. Nazarewicz, K. Orginos, P. Ostroumov, L.-G. Pang, A. Poon, N. Sato, M. Schram, A. Scheinker, M. S. Smith,X.-N. Wang, V. Ziegler, Rev. Mod. Phys. 94, 031003 (2022).

Selected Links

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Read More about Professor Nazarewicz and His Work

Recorded Lectures and Podcasts (selected)

Pictures of Witek's group

Rare Isotope Research

Computing and Machine Learning

Superheavy Element/Nuclei Research

Fission Research

Uncertainty Quantification

Current Events (Selected)

Outreach (Selected)

Reports (Selected)

Michigan State University