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The Nuclear Forensics Research Award

The Nuclear Forensics Research Award

The Nuclear Forensics Research Award (NFRA) supports the establishment of a team to conduct advanced research in the field of nuclear forensics. The NFRA team includes university faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and a national or defense laboratory partner. The NFRA matches a qualified graduate student with a research project to be used as the basis of his or her thesis and completed through work at a partner laboratory and the student’s home university. Through faculty and laboratory staff participation, a collaborative research process is established through which the graduate student is jointly mentored, further enhancing his or her understanding of the topic, and a relationship between faculty and laboratory staff is built. This relationship will facilitate future collaboration and encourage joint research and sharing of equipment and literature.


Domestic Nuclear Detection Office


Proposed research must fall under the categories outlined in the Nuclear Forensics Technical Mission Areas (TMA). These technical mission areas represent U.S. Government research priorities in the area of nuclear forensics. Each successful proposal will receive $250,000 per year for two years, with an additional three-option years to be awarded based on performance and eligibility.

Funding will support a faculty member at 0.25 full-time equivalent, and provide both the graduate ($3,000 per month) and undergraduate student ($10,000 per year) stipends for their work, with the graduate student also receiving funding for tuition.

The NFRA will include travel funds to facilitate collaboration between the laboratory and university, as well as for participation in relevant conferences. The award will also provide funding for small equipment and material costs, as needed.

Eligibility Requirements

To be considered eligible to apply, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • All participants must be U.S. citizens.
  • Participants must be eligible to receive a Department of Energy Q clearance if requested by the sponsor.
  • Participating universities must have doctorate-level educational programs in analytical, geo-, or radio-chemistry; nuclear physics or engineering; computer science, physics, mathematics, geology, or materials science.
  • Graduate students must be pursuing or planning to pursue doctoral study in disciplines directly relevant to nuclear forensics and have at least two years of study remaining.


Upon graduation, the graduate student is obligated to serve for two years in a post-doctoral or staff position at a national or defense laboratory or federal department or agency in the field of nuclear forensics. To facilitate a smooth transition, the NFRA is designed to foster strong professional connections between the graduate student and national and defense laboratory staff during the student’s appointment.  This is accomplished by encouraging participation in on-site laboratory research, funding travel to the laboratory from the university, and requiring attendance at NTNFC-sponsored meetings which bring students together with experts from the broader NTNF community.

In accordance with the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act, should the graduate student not comply with the terms of appointment, he or she must repay the fellowship grant in total to the U.S. Government. This includes both the stipend and tuition, with interest per the prevailing rate of graduate student loans at the time the student received the award.

Application Timeframe

Application announcements are made annually at the end of the calendar year, with new awards announced in late Spring the following year.

Who to Contact for Additional Information

Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) are posted at Inquiries on the NFRA and the application process may be emailed to, with “NFRA” in the subject line.

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