Carolyn Kuranz Portrait

Carolyn Kuranz honored with Rackham Faculty Achievement Award

This esteemed recognition acknowledges Kuranz’s exceptional contributions to research, teaching, mentorship, and service.

Carolyn Kuranz, an associate professor at NERS and one of the nation’s foremost scholars in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, has been given the Faculty Achievement Award by the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School. This prestigious accolade recognizes Kuranz’s exceptional contributions to research, teaching, mentorship, and service within the academic community.

The Faculty Achievement Award, an annual honor, is a testament to Kuranz’s outstanding dedication to advancing our understanding of the universe through her work in laboratory astrophysics.

The Faculty Recognition Awards are intended for mid-career faculty members who have demonstrated remarkable contributions to the university through achievements in scholarly research or creative endeavors; excellence as a teacher, adviser, and mentor; and distinguished participation in service activities of the university and elsewhere. Eligible candidates include full professors with no more than four years in rank, and tenured associate professors.

An expert in fusion and plasma science, her contributions are widely praised, including as a fellow of the American Physical Society, an appellation held by only one-half of 1% of those working in her field. Kuranz received her Ph.D. in 2009 and has had 135 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. As primary investigator, she has received more than $20 million in funding; as co-investigator, the grants total more than $85 million. The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Nuclear Security Agency support her research. In addition, she is one of the co-investigators for what will become the highest-power laser in the United States and among the most powerful in the world — the $35 million NSF ZEUS Laser Facility. 

Kuranz is known for her research in the field of high-energy-density plasma physics. She studies the behavior of matter at extreme temperatures and pressures, often replicating conditions found in astrophysical phenomena such as supernovae, the interiors of giant planets, and nuclear fusion. Her work involves using high-power lasers to create and analyze high-energy-density plasmas.

One of Kuranz’s notable areas of research was investigating the hydrodynamics and radiative properties of plasmas under extreme conditions. This research had implications for understanding the behavior of matter in astrophysical environments and contributed to our knowledge of fusion energy, astrophysical processes, and the fundamental properties of matter.

Through her dedication as an educator and mentor, Kuranz has made a significant impact on shaping the next generation of plasma physicists. She is a hands-on educator, actively mentoring each of her students. She also is the faculty adviser to over 60 students enrolled in our Engineering Physics program. She meets with each student individually to discuss proposed curricula and internship opportunities and counsels them on post-graduation options and long-term career planning.

Beyond the classroom and laboratory, Kuranz has extended her contributions by actively participating in various professional organizations and committees, where she advocates for diversity and inclusion within academia and the College.

In recognizing Prof. Carolyn Kuranz with the Faculty Achievement Award, the University celebrates her remarkable achievements and contributions to the academic community. 

“The Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences Department is proud of Professor Kuranz’s accomplishments in research and teaching,” said NERS Chair Todd Allen. “She is a great colleague who is admired by our students and makes the department a better place.  We are pleased that Rackham is recognizing her excellence.”

Media Contact

Sara Norman

Marketing & Communications Manager