Research Centers

Providing large-center support to researchers at Notre Dame is a major focus of ND Energy. Collaborating with faculty, the ND Energy team creates and executes education and outreach programs, advances research capabilities through core research facilities, and manages major business and other administrative functions. These partnerships enable faculty to focus more time on research goals and other scholarly initiatives, while contributing to broader impacts and further growth in the research enterprise at Notre Dame.

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Actinide Center of Excellence (ACE)

The University of Notre Dame is leading a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Actinide Center of Excellence (ACE) to conduct research in actinide and nuclear chemistry. The center is led by Peter C. Burns, Henry Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences (CEEES), concurrent professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and director of ND Energy. The research conducted at ACE will integrate both experimental and computational approaches to analyze radioactive materials, including the elements americium, neptunium, plutonium and uranium, taking advantage of specialized facilities developed at Notre Dame. The team of researchers from Notre Dame as well as from Washington State University, University of Minnesota, Oregon State University, and Northwestern University will focus on three specific themes: the properties and structure of nanoscale radioactive materials; the thermochemistry, or heat energy, associated with these materials; and how nanoscale nuclear materials react in various chemical environments. In addition to Peter Burns, researchers from Notre Dame are Amy Hixon, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, and Jay LaVerne, concurrent professor of radiation physics

For more information about ACE, visit  

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration's (DOE/NNSA) Stewardship Science Academic Alliances (SSAA) Centers of Excellence program was launched in 2002. The SSAA supports areas of fundamental research and development that are relevant to NNSA’s stockpile stewardship mission and works to recruit the next generation of highly-trained technical scientists and engineers for the Nuclear Security Enterprise. To learn more, visit:

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Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR)

The Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR) is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center that brings together researchers from Purdue University, the University of New Mexico, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Texas at Austin. This team will join industry, academia, and government to cultivate engineering discovery and education to develop innovative process designs for economic production of liquid chemicals and transportation fuels from shale gas hydrocarbons. Researchers will also explore novel approaches for converting methane to chemical intermediates, which can then be used as a feedstock for conversion to liquid fuels.

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame are located in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and include professors Thomas Degnan, Alexander Dowling, Ruilan Guo, Jason Hicks, and William Schneider. Graduate students associated with the center are Jerry Crum, Zihan Huang, Jeonghyun Ko, Si Li, Galiya Magazova, Neha Mehra, Jessica Muhlenkamp, and Joshua Wright. ND Energy supports the center in the areas of education and workforce development and other administrative functions, including the Young Scholars Program and undergraduate research experiences.   

CISTAR is headquartered in the Flex Lab Facility at Purdue’s Discovery Park. For more information, visit:

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Materials Science of Actinides (MSA)

The Materials Science of Actinides (MSA), Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy since 2009. The mission of the MSA is to conduct transformative research in the actinide sciences with full integration of experimental and computational approaches, and an emphasis on research questions that are important to the energy future of the nation. Workforce development is a motivating goal of this university-based center. The three primary research themes of the MSA are: (1) Nanoscale Cage Clusters, led by Peter C. Burns, University of Notre Dame, and Laura Gagliardi, University of Minnesota; (2) Complex Ceramic and Metallic Materials, led by Alexandra Navrotsky, University of California, Davis, and Albert Migliori, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and (3) Actinide Materials in Extreme Environments, led by Rodney Ewing, Stanford University, and Maik Lang, University of Tennessee.  

For more information about the MSA-EFRC, visit:

Notre Dame Energy Frontier Research Center receives further DOE funding