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Funding and Support for DOE Research

ORISE Scientific Peer Review helps to inform DOE Funding Decision-Makers

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) serves as the primary coordinator of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science peer reviews. ORISE helps inform DOE decision-makers by ensuring an independent and objective review process for recommending research activities for funding and support.

Science Focus Areas

Researcher in a lab

ORISE’s role: The DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) wanted to improve its approach to funding research at DOE national laboratories. Previously, BER funded individual, single investigator projects, but it’s now considering the allocation of funds through integrated science focus areas (SFA), such as biofuels and climate change, better taking advantage of the national laboratories’ interdisciplinary capabilities. To assist DOE with this challenge, ORISE managed a series of meetings; thereby enabling the subject matter experts to focus on the particulars of the current research being performed and how it can be better integrated using the new approach.

Result: National laboratories have developed SFA program and science plans and have initiated integrated research programs. Progress of these programs will be reviewed by independent panels every three years.

DOE’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

Solar system

ORISE’s role: ORISE conducted a two-week review of two facilities competing for the opportunity to design and establish DOE’s $550 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The facility will provide scientists critical information about the properties of rare isotopes not found on Earth in order to better understand the origin of the elements and the evolution of the cosmos. ORISE’s PeerNet database streamlined the process and seamlessly connected 20 independent reviewers from universities, industry and federal agencies.

Result: Michigan State University was awarded funding to design and build FRIB on behalf of DOE’s Office of Science. The new national facility will be funded over a 10-year-period and is expected to attract top researchers from around the world to conduct experiments in nuclear science, astrophysics and applications of isotopes to other fields.