Graduate Research Cooperative

The Graduate Research Cooperative (GRC) is a new initiative launched by the University of Chicago Office of Research and National Laboratories (RNL) to foster and coordinate projects between UChicago and Argonne that involve graduate students performing PhD thesis research on site at the National Lab.

The GRC, which launched as a pilot phase in October 2019, currently places Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering graduate students at Argonne National Laboratory. The GRC was conceived as part of the Joint Taskforce Initiative (JTFI), which brings UChicago resources to bear in helping Argonne and Fermilab achieve mission success. The GRC eventually will expand to include other University academic departments and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The GRC is led by Paul Nealey, the GRC Faculty Director and Dougan Professor in Molecular Engineering, with executive administrative assistance from Larry Hill, Senior Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives in RNL. GRC oversight is provided by an Executive Committee composed of UChicago and Argonne senior leadership.

Learn more about the pilot phase.

How it Works

Graduate students participating in the GRC follow one of two tracks:

In the most innovative track, Argonne PIs offer PhD research projects to be conducted primarily at the national lab and recruit PME students to those projects in their first quarter in the PME graduate program. Typically, the student will be based for the first 5 quarters on campus and thereafter be based at the national lab, corresponding to PhD programmatic activities transitioning from mostly coursework to mostly research. 

In a second track, graduate students enter the GRC as opportunities arise for students to spend at least one year during the research-centric portion of their PhD programs to conduct research on site at the National Lab.

All students participating in the GRC are part of teams consisting of the graduate student, a primary research adviser, and a primary academic adviser. The primary research adviser will be an Argonne PI, because by design all graduate students in the GRC will be either be 1) working on site at ANL and expending effort on an ANL funded project, or 2) matched with an ANL PI as primary research adviser in a GRC project but be in the early stages of their PhD program.

The primary academic adviser will be a UChicago faculty member from the academic unit of the graduate student and will at all times have primary responsibility for the GRC student’s academic progress. The primary academic adviser will serve on all committees related to candidacy and thesis defense and meet with the student periodically to assure their well-being.

How to Apply

Prospective students should apply through the regular Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering admissions process.

Interested Argonne scientists should submit an application for GRC membership that includes the applicant’s rationale for seeking membership, a description of the proposed research to be undertaken, the University unit where collaborations currently exist or will be established, a current CV, and a letter of recommendation from the applicant’s cognizant supervisor of the home institution. In addition, the applicant must detail a long-term financial plan for how GRC students will be supported in his or her Argonne laboratory. 

These materials should be submitted as a package to Paul Nealey, with copy to Larry Hill. The application will be evaluated by the UChicago academic unit and, if approved, the scientist will be notified to apply for affiliated status through the UChicago CASE portal.

More Information

For more information please contact Paul Nealey or Larry Hill.