Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Summer SchoolNuclear Forensics Undergraduate Summer School

Are you a science, mathematics, or engineering major?
Interested in learning about nuclear forensics?
This program is for you!

The Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Summer School (NFUSS) Program is now accepting applications for summer 2020. The deadline is March 6, 2020. Apply today!

NFUSS is a six-week course, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), designed to provide undergraduate students with comprehensive, experimental, hands-on training in topics essential to nuclear forensics. Through laboratory experiments and complementary lectures, students are introduced to the practice and technical aspects of nuclear forensic science. The NFUSS program will be held at the University of Texas-Austin and will also include a tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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NFUSS will introduce undergraduate science, mathematics, and engineering students to the field of nuclear forensics. Nuclear forensics involves examining materials recovered from radiological and nuclear events of an illicit or hostile nature in order to determine their character and origin. Nuclear forensics conclusions, combined with information from law enforcement investigation and intelligence, help identify those responsible for planned and actual attacks.

participants completing a task

Nuclear forensics supports the U.S. Government commitment to identify and hold fully accountable any state or non-state actor that willfully supports, enables, or engages in hostile weapons of mass destruction activities that threaten the United States or our allies and partners.

Selected students participate in a six-week course composed of a series of lectures, laboratory experiments, practical exercises, and a field trip to ORNL focused on major topics that relate to nuclear forensics.

At the completion of this summer school, students will understand:

  1. The chart of nuclides, and be able to utilize it
  2. Different modes of radioactive decay
  3. Components of the nucleus and how it influences nuclear properties
  4. How fission is induced and the resulting products
  5. Radiation detection or mass spectroscopy and be able to determine isotope concentration or ratios
  6. The fundamental components of the nuclear fuel cycle
  7. Nuclear reactors and reactor physics
  8. The application of analytical methods in characterizing materials
  9. Plutonium processing
  10. Contemporary issues in nuclear forensics



How to Apply

The Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Summer School (NFUSS) Program is now accepting applications for summer 2020. The deadline is March 6, 2020. Apply today!

Applicant Information

Before starting the application, please read through this information to ensure you are eligible for this program and are aware of the required information needed to be considered.


Candidates must:

  • Be currently enrolled full time as a degree-seeking student in a science, mathematics, or engineering program at an accredited four-year U.S. college or university
  • Have completed at least two years of college-level coursework prior to the start of the NFUSS appointment
  • Have a minimum overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
  • Be at least 18 years of age at time of application
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Provide proof of health insurance coverage
  • Be available to participate in the full six-week program

Important Dates

  • Application deadline:March 6, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET
  • Reference received deadline:March 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm ET
  • Candidates notified of selection:March 16-April 3, 2020 
  • Program dates:June 15 to July 24, 2020
  • Field trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory:Planned for week of July 13, 2020

How to Apply

The NFUSS application process consists of three parts:

1. Create a Profile

The profile will require:

  • Name, address, and contact information
  • Education, awards, and certification information – be sure to show all of your educational experience and show your most recent start date and expected graduation date on your current school/degree
  • Employment information (including previous internships)
  • Areas of interest
  • Reference – list at least one name and contact information for an educational or technical reference now, but they will not be emailed with instructions on how to provide the reference until you complete and submit the application. See below for more information.
  • How you found the application and demographic information (will not be visible to selecting reviewers)
  • A PDF copy of your resume/curriculum vitae – be sure to redact your Social Security number and birthdate throughout document if applicable
  • Release and certify your information

2. Complete the Application

The application will require:

  • A PDF upload of a letter of interest that includes:
    • Information on why you are interested in this program
    • Description of how you would benefit from this opportunity
    • Information on your career goals as they relate to the NFUSS opportunity
    • Any knowledge/skills/abilities that reviewers should be aware of when considering your application
  • A PDF upload of a copy of your most recent college/university transcript, which must include information on your spring class schedule (unofficial is acceptable). Be sure to redact your Social Security number and birthdate throughout document if applicable.
    • If selected, an official transcript or additional information may be requested before a final decision is made.
  • Your selection for the reference to be contacted (if more than one is listed and selected, then the first one returned will be considered)

3. Submit References

Once you submit your application, the reference you listed will receive an auto-generated email from the Zintellect system with instructions on how to submit a reference on your behalf. It is your responsibility to communicate with your reference to determine if they received instructions on how to submit the online recommendation. Ask them to check their spam folders and be sure to verify that you provided the correct email address. 

Technical Assistance

If you or your references experience any technical difficulties with the online system, please contact

This is an equal opportunity program open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, age, sex, religion, national origin, mental or physical ability, genetic information, sexual orientation or covered veteran's status.


Student Stipend

The program will cover your tuition, fees, housing, meals, and travel reimbursement for the program at the University of Texas-Austin and for the field trip to ORNL. You will receive a $5,000 stipend that will be paid by the university to you directly as part of your appointment in the NFUSS program.


The 2020 NFUSS will include a tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory to provide participants with a firsthand view of an operational environment. The visit to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will include a look at cutting-edge nuclear forensics science research. Participants will tour the Ultra-trace Forensics Science Center, which focuses on chemical and physical analysis of forensics samples; the historic X-10 Graphite Reactor, which went critical in 1943; the uranium processing and debris laboratories; and the High Flux Isotope Reactor and the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. Not only will the visit show the range of possible scientific areas in nuclear forensics, but it will allow the students to interact with scientists and researchers and discuss their path to their current career and role at ORNL. In addition to the tours, the ORNL visit will include a mock post-detonation collection and analysis exercise where students will be led through a mock detonation event with mission planning, collection of samples, and analysis of results from those samples.

Contact Us

For questions about program, please contact: