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Nathan Frank

Nathan H. Frank

Professor of Physics

LinkedIn profile

• Related: Dr. Nathan Frank named top scientist of the year

I grew up in Moorhead, Minn., where I graduated from Concordia College, a small, liberal arts institution like Augustana. I am excited to share the physics perspective about our world with others while enjoying what I consider truly balmy winter weather.

At Augustana, I teach a wide variety of physics courses from the first-year level to the senior level. I especially enjoy interactions with students and participating in the revelations students have while using active learning techniques and teaching in a studio-style class. Techniques like these developed by the Physics Education Research community show significant learning gains. A studio-style classroom focuses uses student groups to perform laboratory activities, active problem solving, and puzzling through physics ideas. You should come by one of my classes if you have not been in this environment before. You learn a lot and it is a lot of fun!

I attended Michigan State University (MSU) for Ph.D. work where I performed experiments on the atomic nucleus at the former facility called the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). MSU is known internationally for excellence in nuclear physics research, which is why MSU is the home of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), which will be the primary location for my future research.

I am fascinated by this field since I find the challenge in determining the structure of very tiny things (roughly 10 to the negative 15th power meters for nuclei) incredibly interesting. My specific area of research focuses on nuclei that are so unstable that they emit at least one neutron upon formation. Learning the properties of atomic nuclei helps us to understand the fundamental structure of the universe.

My research program is a continuation of my graduate work that involves undergraduate students that ranges from new assembly and testing of new devices, simulation of our experiments, data analysis, and presentation of results. Multiple experimental devices include the Charged Particle Detector Telescope project funded by a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant and a new MRI grant to build a cutting-edge neutron detector to improve our experimental capabilities. The result will be a neutron detector that will be the best in the world. There is always something new and exciting to work on in my lab!

During my time at Augustana, I have been the first author or co-author on more than 50 published papers, some of which have undergraduate students as co-authors. In addition, my research students have presented their work at national conferences in numerous poster and oral presentations. This research involves other investigators in the MoNA Collaboration, which consists of primarily undergraduate, liberal arts institutions. Both Augustana College and multiple grants from the National Science Foundation support my research program, which may be found on my LinkedIn page or CV.

While I am keeping busy with professional work and spending time with my family and friends, I do my best to have fun and find physics in everything I do.

Specializations: Nuclear physics, Nuclear experimentation


  • B.A., Concordia College
  • Ph.D., Michigan State