National Superconducting
Cyclotron Laboratory

Dean  Lee
Dean Lee
Professor of Physics, Nuclear Theory Department Head
Theoretical Nuclear Physics
Ph.D., Physics, Harvard University, 1998
Joined NSCL in August 2017
Phone 517-908-7282
Office Room 2122

Dean Lee

Professional Webpage

How do we connect fundamental physics to forefront experiments?

With new science waiting to be discovered at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and the dawning of the era of exascale supercomputing, this is a profound challenge and opportunity for nuclear theory. The Lee Research Group works to understand the nature and origins of matter by crafting new approaches that link quantum chromodynamics and electroweak theory to precise predictions for nuclear structure and reactions relevant to the FRIB science mission.

One of the methods we have developed with collaborators is lattice effective field theory. Effective field theory (EFT) is an organizing principle for the interactions of a complex system at low energies. When applied to low-energy protons and neutrons in a formulation called chiral effective field theory, it functions as an expansion in powers of the nucleon momenta and the pion mass. Lattice EFT combines this theoretical framework with lattice methods and Monte Carlo algorithms that are applicable to few-body systems, heavier nuclei, and infinite matter. The Lee Research Group is part of the Nuclear Lattice EFT Collaboration, which has been pioneered many of the theoretical ideas and methods now being used in nuclear lattice simulations.

Some of the topics we are studying are superfluidity, nuclear clustering, nuclear structure from first principles calculations, ab initio scattering and inelastic reactions, and properties of nuclei as seen through electroweak probes.

We are also applying new technologies and computational paradigms such as eigenvector continuation, machine learning tools to find hidden correlations, and quantum computing algorithms for the nuclear many-body problem.
We are looking to work with experimentalists and theorists on new ideas and creative ways to collaborate. If you are interested in working in or with our group, please email



Eigenvector continuation



Nuclear lattice simulations

“Strive to understand the physics so well
that surprises are not mistakes but new discoveries.”

Selected Publications

Google Scholar

Lee, J. Bonitati, G. Given, C. Hicks, N. Li, B.-N. Lu, A. Rai, A. Sarkar, J. Watkins “Projected

Cooling Algorithm for Quantum Computation,” Phys. Lett. B 807, 135536 (2020) [arXiv:1910.07708].

B.-N. Lu, N. Li, S. Elhatisari, D. Lee, E. Epelbaum and U.-G. Mei.ner, “Essential elements for nuclear binding,” Phys. Lett. B 797, 134863 (2019) [arXiv:1812.10928 [nucl-th]].

Frame, R. He, I. Ipsen, D. Lee, D. Lee and E. Rrapaj, “Eigenvector continuation with subspace learning,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 032501 (2018) [arXiv:1711.07090 [nucl-th]].

S. Elhatisari et al., “Nuclear binding near a quantum phase transition,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, no. 13, 132501 (2016).

S. Elhatisari, D. Lee, G. Rupak, E. Epelbaum, H. Krebs, T.A. Lähde, T. Luu and U.-G. Meißner, “Ab initio alpha-alpha scattering,” Nature 528, 111 (2015).

E. Epelbaum, H. Krebs, T.A. Lähde, D. Lee and U.- G. Meißner, “Viability of Carbon-Based Life as a Function of the Light Quark Mass,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, no. 11, 112502 (2013).

E. Epelbaum, H. Krebs, T.A. Lähde, D. Lee and U.-G. Meißner, “Structure and rotations of the Hoyle state,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 252501 (2012).