Two MSU NatSci researchers earn Department of Energy honor

  • May 3, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, Physics & Astronomy

Two Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci) researchers have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science to receive research funding as part of the DOE’s Early Career Research Program.

A total of 49 scientists were selected – including 27 from U.S. universities and 22 from DOE’s national laboratories.

Sean Couch and Christopher Wrede, both assistant professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will receive at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. The research grants are planned for five years.

Sean Couch

Sean Couch

Couch also has appointments in the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering, and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL)/Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

He is a theoretical astrophysicist specializing in the study of the core-collapse supernova mechanism using large-scale numerical simulation. He earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Texas and was a Hubble Fellow at the University of Chicago.

Christopher Wrede

Christopher Wrede

Wrede also has an appointment in the NSCL. His primary research interest is in the field of experimental nuclear astrophysics, and he has taught courses in astronomy, electronics and nuclear astrophysics.

Prior to joining MSU in 2011, Wrede received a Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 2008 and spent three years as a research associate at the University of Washington’s Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics.

“Professors Couch and Wrede are outstanding scientists and represent the young faculty who will continue to build Michigan State’s international leadership in nuclear physics and astrophysics," said R. James Kirkpatrick, NatSci dean. "We are very pleased that the DOE chose to recognize them with these important grants.”

The Early Career Research Program is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

To be eligible for the award, a researcher must be an untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professor at a U.S. academic institution or a full-time employee at a DOE national laboratory, who received a Ph.D. within the past 10 years.

For information on the award, please visit