Home › Page › Nuclear and Radiochemistry Summer Schools FAQ

Nuclear and Radiochemistry Summer Schools FAQ



At present time, applications of nuclear chemistry, radiochemistry and radiation chemistry are growing exponentially. Radioactive molecular imaging agents and targeted radiotherapy constructs are revolutionizing molecular medicine. Research in production of novel radionuclides for medical applications has ramped up in national laboratory facilities and universities. Alpha- and beta- emitting nuclides are showing stunning curative results in radiotherapy when conjugated to specific targeting vectors.

Worldwide interest in nuclear energy is growing in response to global warming concerns. National security and nuclear forensics are areas of intense importance to protect legacy waste and to abrogate nuclear terrorism threats. Recently, the advent of production and experimental/ theoretical studies of transuranic elements has opened up new vistas in fundamental studies of the periodic table. There are many opportunities for study and careers in these areas. The need for radiochemists and nuclear chemists is growing globally, and we have critical needs for new students to enter the workforce in nuclear and radiochemistry.

The Nuclear Chemistry Summer Schools are a strategic investment by the U.S. Department of Energy in workforce development to meet the long-term national need for nuclear chemists and radiochemists. Since its inception in 1984, the NCSS has introduced 870 students to these vital fields of study. The Summer Schools have enabled many students, who report that they would not have considered graduate study in the field without participation in the program, to enter the fields of nuclear and radiochemistry during their academic training.


In 1977, recognizing the decline in educational opportunities in nuclear and radiochemistry and the concomitant lack of undergraduate student exposure in the field, the Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology (NUCL) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) determined that increasing opportunities for graduate studies was paramount. This could be accomplished by supporting new faculty positions and by increasing the interest of undergraduates in the field. Through the singular efforts of Dr. Patricia A. Baisden, then of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, funding was obtained for an undergraduate summer school experience in nuclear and radiochemistry. The first class of the American Chemical Society Summer School in Nuclear and Radiochemistry (then abbreviated as SSNR) was held at San Jose State University (SJSU) in the summer of 1984 serving 12 students. In 1989, a second site for the summer school was established at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). The BNL site also served 12 students.

Since it was first initiated in 1984, the Summer School program has successfully introduced 870 physical science and engineering undergraduates to nuclear chemistry and radiochemistry. Of this group, over 20% have chosen careers in nuclear science. In fact, since 2014, close to 50% of the students have chosen a career path in nuclear science. Many of these individuals are now in a position to influence other young people to enter the field. This indicates that the students recognize the importance of the field for the United States and the world at large. The Nuclear Chemistry Summer School continues to play a major role in ensuring a pipeline of outstanding students entering fields involving nuclear chemistry and radiochemistry.

Because of non-interrupted Department of Energy support for the Nuclear Chemistry Summer Schools over the past 40 years, the program has been and is recognized for accepting very well qualified students, mentoring students, and producing undergraduates who are highly desirable for graduate school in areas of nuclear chemistry, radiochemistry and any other field. Over the past 40 years, we have seen alumni of the NCSS become leaders in their respective fields.

We have come full circle: Dr. Carolyn Anderson (University of Missouri) was a student in the first NCSS class in 1984 where Glenn T. Seaborg gave a guest lecture. In 2022, Dr. Anderson was awarded the Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry for her pioneering research in radiopharmaceutical chemistry including ushering in two different fields in the medical use of radioisotopes: immunoPET and theragnostics.

For the past 40 years, the Nuclear Chemistry Summer Schools have been the one constant institution teaching undergraduates the fundamentals of nuclear chemistry and radiochemistry, showing students the excitement of research in radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry and giving them a glimpse of future applications. The support of the Department of Energy has been a critical component of running the summer schools. The dedication of the site directors, lead instructors, lab instructors, weekly lecturers, guest lecturers, and radiation safety officers/departments, and those running the day-to-day operations of the summer school have been invaluable to the success of the summer schools and to the students having an excellent academic as well as social experience.

A prior summary of the history of the NCSS is also available.