US Department of Energy announces $3.6 Million to diversify nuclear physics

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $3.6 million with a focus on broadening and diversifying the nuclear and particle physics research communities through research traineeships for undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). 

The goal of this programme is to increase the recruitment and retention of students from groups under-represented in nuclear physics and to create new partnerships with HBCUs and MSIs. Only by accessing the broadest possible pool of potential physicists can the community produce the best possible science.

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Director of the Office of Science comments: ‘These awards are but one part of the Office of Science’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) initiative. They once again underscore DOE’s abiding commitment to promoting a diverse, equitable and welcoming environment for the researchers it supports. Only by stewarding a vibrant, diverse workforce that accesses intellects and ideas across the full spectrum of backgrounds and cultures within the United States can we ensure that the future science and technology workforce in our nation remains the most competent resource of its kind in the world.’

The funding supports long-term training, mentorship, and research experiences for undergraduates at universities, colleges, DOE user facilities, and DOE national laboratories. Traineeships provide students with a hands-on opportunity to participate in cutting-edge nuclear physics research in a team under the supervision of a principal investigator. The strong emphasis on establishing collaborative research relationships with MSI faculty and the year-round support for trainees are key elements that set the traineeships apart from preexisting programs.

The funding announced today is for the second cohort of traineeships selected by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Research Traineeships to Broaden and Diversify Nuclear Physics. The first awards under this FOA totalled $2.6 million and were announced in 2021. In total, funding from this FOA will support approximately 110 trainees from 9 Hispanic Serving Institutions, 14 HBCUs, 2 Asian American and Native Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, 1 Predominantly Black Institution, and 1 Native American Serving Institution. The ‘Institute for Nuclear Science to Inspire the next generation of a highly trained workforce,’ or INSIGHT Center, was also created to measure progress and coordinate longitudinal tracking of trainees’ progression towards science and technology careers.

In addition to supporting additional traineeships as part of the continuing RENEW initiative, the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Nuclear Physics plans to explore avenues for post-traineeship experiences and other opportunities to retain RENEW participants, keeping them on the pathways that lead to a successful career in the long term. The list of projects and more information can be found here.