Graduate Research Cooperative

The Graduate Research Cooperative (GRC) is an initiative of the University of Chicago Office of Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives that coordinates and administers projects that involve UChicago graduate students performing PhD thesis research on site at a National Laboratory in National Laboratory-funded programs. The GRC ensures that each student’s activities meet PhD degree program requirements and manages all financial transactions related to student support. The GRC meets these objectives by requiring that every graduate student engaged in the GRC apply for membership and be approved by the GRC Director.

The GRC, which launched as a pilot phase in October 2019, was conceived as part of the Joint Task Force Initiative (JTFI), which brings UChicago resources to bear in helping Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory achieve mission success. 

Interested in conducting research with an National Laboratory scientist? View a list of current National Laboratory scientists who are approved to work with UChicago students through GRC.

The GRC is led by Paul Nealey, GRC Faculty Director, Brady W. Dougan Professor of Molecular Engineering, and Vice Dean for Education and Outreach in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

Learn more about the pilot phase.

How it Works

There are two mechanisms by which a graduate student engaged in the GRC pursues some or all the research associated with the academic requirements of their PhD degree program:

GRC PhD Program: The graduate student and National Laboratory PI agree that the student will pursue the PhD academic research program in a National Lab funded project at the beginning of the student’s overall PhD program, typically in the student’s first year of residence. Under these circumstances, it is anticipated that the student will conduct all the research associated with the academic requirements of their PhD degree program with theNational Lab PI serving as the primary academic research advisor.

GRC Collaborative Program: In the course of PhD program, in the second year or later, an opportunity emerges for a graduate student to pursue a portion of the research associated with the academic requirements of their PhD degree program with a National Lab PI serving as the primary academic research advisor with support from a National Lab-funded project. Under these circumstances, the anticipated duration of the period of GRC membership must be specified in the application and should exceed one year. Typically the research opportunity is collaborative between a UChicago-based primary academic research advisor with whom the student started their PhD academic research, and the National Lab PI.

How to Participate

Application for graduate student membership in the GRC is undertaken by a team consisting of one or more primary academic research advisors, a primary PhD program advisor, and the graduate student. The primary academic research advisor will be a National Laboratory PI who is a member of the UChicago Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering (CASE) and who has an affiliated status with the student’s academic unit. During the period of time of membership in the GRC The primary PhD program adviser is a UChicago faculty member from the student’s academic unit who bears responsibility for meeting with the student regularly and monitoring the GRC student’s academic progress with respect to degree program requirements, milestones, and expectations set by the student’s academic unit. The primary academic adviser can be, but need not be, a research collaborator. The primary PhD program advisor will serve on all committees related to academic progress such as candidacy, thesis committees, and thesis defense.

National Laboratory scientists seeking entry into the GRC with PME affiliation, submit an application package via email to Paul Nealey (

Elements of the application should include:

  1. Rationale for seeking unit affiliation;
  2. Description of proposed research to be undertaken;
  3. UChicago Unit(s) where collaborations currently exist or seeking to be established;
  4. Current CV;
  5. Record of Advising Form;
  6. Two letters from previous postdocs/students;
  7. Letter of recommendation from cognizant supervisor of home institution; and
  8. Long-term financial plan for how GRC Students will be supported in the PI’s laboratory

Graduate students seeking entry into one of the GRC programs should consult the Office of Student Affairs in their academic unit for information on the process and documentation required for participation.

More Information

For more information please contact Paul Nealey.

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