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  • richardmitnick 8:25 pm on September 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NSF, , ,   

    From UC Santa Barbara: “A Quantum Leap” 

    UC Santa Barbara Name bloc
    From UC Santa Barbara

    September 16, 2019
    James Badham

    $25M grant makes UC Santa Barbara home to the nation’s first NSF-funded Quantum Foundry, a center for development of materials and devices for quantum information-based technologies.

    Professors Stephen Wilson and Ania Bleszynski Jayich will co-direct the campus’s new Quantum Foundry

    We hear a lot these days about the coming quantum revolution. Efforts to understand, develop, and characterize quantum materials — defined broadly as those displaying characteristics that can be explained only by quantum mechanics and not by classical physics — are intensifying.

    Researchers around the world are racing to understand these materials and harness their unique qualities to develop revolutionary quantum technologies for quantum computing, communications, sensing, simulation and other quantum technologies not yet imaginable.

    This week, UC Santa Barbara stepped to the front of that worldwide research race by being named the site of the nation’s first Quantum Foundry.

    Funded by an initial six-year, $25-million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project, known officially as the UC Santa Barbara NSF Quantum Foundry, will involve 20 faculty members from the campus’s materials, physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering and computer science departments, plus myriad collaborating partners. The new center will be anchored within the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) in Elings Hall.

    California Nanosystems Institute

    The grant provides substantial funding to build equipment and develop tools necessary to the effort. It also supports a multi-front research mission comprising collaborative interdisciplinary projects within a network of university, industry, and national-laboratory partners to create, process, and characterize materials for quantum information science. The Foundry will also develop outreach and educational programs aimed at familiarizing students at all levels with quantum science, creating a new paradigm for training students in the rapidly evolving field of quantum information science and engaging with industrial partners to accelerate development of the coming quantum workforce.

    “We are extremely proud that the National Science Foundation has chosen UC Santa Barbara as home to the nation’s first NSF-funded Quantum Foundry,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “The award is a testament to the strength of our University’s interdisciplinary science, particularly in materials, physics and chemistry, which lie at the core of quantum endeavors. It also recognizes our proven track record of working closely with industry to bring technologies to practical application, our state-of-the-art facilities and our educational and outreach programs that are mutually complementary with our research.

    “Under the direction of physics professor Ania Bleszynski Jayich and materials professor Stephen Wilson the foundry will provide a collaborative environment for researchers to continue exploring quantum phenomena, designing quantum materials and building instruments and computers based on the basic principles of quantum mechanics,” Yang added.

    Said Joseph Incandela, the campus’s vice chancellor for research, “UC Santa Barbara is a natural choice for the NSF quantum materials Foundry. We have outstanding faculty, researchers, and facilities, and a great tradition of multidisciplinary collaboration. Together with our excellent students and close industry partnerships, they have created a dynamic environment where research gets translated into important technologies.”

    “Being selected to build and host the nation’s first Quantum Foundry is tremendously exciting and extremely important,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the College of Engineering. “It recognizes the vision and the decades of work that have made UC Santa Barbara a truly world-leading institution worthy of assuming a leadership role in a mission as important as advancing quantum science and the transformative technologies it promises to enable.”

    “Advances in quantum science require a highly integrated interdisciplinary approach, because there are many hard challenges that need to be solved on many fronts,” said Bleszynski Jayich. “One of the big ideas behind the Foundry is to take these early theoretical ideas that are just beginning to be experimentally viable and use quantum mechanics to produce technologies that can outperform classical technologies.”

    Doing so, however, will require new materials.

    “Quantum technologies are fundamentally materials-limited, and there needs to be some sort of leap or evolution of the types of materials we can harness,” noted Wilson. “The Foundry is where we will try to identify and create those materials.”

    Research Areas and Infrastructure

    Quantum Foundry research will be pursued in three main areas, or “thrusts”:

    • Natively Entangled Materials, which relates to identifying and characterizing materials that intrinsically host anyon excitations and long-range entangled states with topological, or structural, protection against decoherence. These include new intrinsic topological superconductors and quantum spin liquids, as well as materials that enable topological quantum computing.

    • Interfaced Topological States, in which researchers will seek to create and control protected quantum states in hybrid materials.

    • Coherent Quantum Interfaces, where the focus will be on engineering materials having localized quantum states that can be interfaced with various other quantum degrees of freedom (e.g. photons or phonons) for distributing quantum information while retaining robust coherence.

    Developing these new materials and assessing their potential for hosting the needed coherent quantum state requires specialized equipment, much of which does not exist yet. A significant portion of the NSF grant is designated to develop such infrastructure, both to purchase required tools and equipment and to fabricate new tools necessary both to grow and characterize the quantum states in the new materials, Wilson said.

    UC Santa Barbara’s deep well of shared materials growth and characterization infrastructure was also a factor in securing the grant. The Foundry will leverage existing facilities, such as the large suite of instrumentation shared via the Materials Research Lab and the California Nanosystems Institute, multiple molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) growth chambers (the university has the largest number of MBE apparatuses in academia), unique optical facilities such as the Terahertz Facility, state-of-the-art clean rooms, and others among the more than 300 shared instruments on campus.

    Data Science

    NSF is keenly interested in both generating and sharing data from materials experiments. “We are going to capture Foundry data and harness it to facilitate discovery,” said Wilson. “The idea is to curate and share data to accelerate discovery at this new frontier of quantum information science.”

    Industrial Partners

    Industry collaborations are an important part of the Foundry project. UC Santa Barbara’s well-established history of industrial collaboration — it leads all universities in the U.S. in terms of industrial research dollars per capita — and the application focus that allows it to to transition ideas into materials and materials into technologies, was important in receiving the Foundry grant.

    Another value of industrial collaboration, Wilson explained, is that often, faculty might be looking at something interesting without being able to visualize how it might be useful in a scaled-up commercial application. “If you have an array of directions you could go, it is essential to have partners to help you visualize those having near-term potential,” he said.

    “This is a unique case where industry is highly interested while we are still at the basic-science level,” said Bleszynski Jayich. “There’s a huge industry partnership component to this.”

    Among the 10 inaugural industrial partners are Microsoft, Google, IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, HRL, Northrop Grumman, Bruker, SomaLogic, NVision, and Anstrom Science. Microsoft and Google have substantial campus presences already; Microsoft’s Quantum Station Q lab is here, and UC Santa Barbara professor and Google chief scientist John Martinis and a team of his Ph.D. student researchers are working with Google at its Santa Barbara office, adjacent to campus, to develop Google’s quantum computer.

    Undergraduate Education

    In addition, with approximately 700 students, UC Santa Barbara’s undergraduate physics program is the largest in the U.S. “Many of these students, as well as many undergraduate engineering and chemistry students, are hungry for an education in quantum science, because it’s a fascinating subject that defies our classical intuition, and on top of that, it offers career opportunities. It can’t get much better than that,” Bleszynski Jayich said.

    Graduate Education Program

    Another major goal of the Foundry project is to integrate quantum science into education and to develop the quantum workforce. The traditional approach to quantum education at the university level has been for students to take physics classes, which are focused on the foundational theory of quantum mechanics.

    “But there is an emerging interdisciplinary component of quantum information that people are not being exposed to in that approach,” Wilson explained. “Having input from many overlapping disciplines in both hard science and engineering is required, as are experimental touchstones for trying to understand these phenomena. Student involvement in industry internships and collaborative research with partner companies is important in addressing that.”

    “We want to introduce a more practical quantum education,” Bleszynski Jayich added. “Normally you learn quantum mechanics by learning about hydrogen atoms and harmonic oscillators, and it’s all theoretical. That training is still absolutely critical, but now we want to supplement it, leveraging our abilities gained in the past 20 to 30 years to control a quantum system on the single-atom, single-quantum-system level. Students will take lab classes where they can manipulate quantum systems and observe the highly counterintuitive phenomena that don’t make sense in our classical world. And, importantly, they will learn various cutting-edge techniques for maintaining quantum coherence.

    “That’s particularly important,” she continued, “because quantum technologies rely on the success of the beautiful, elegant theory of quantum mechanics, but in practice we need unprecedented control over our experimental systems in order to observe and utilize their delicate quantum behavior.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Barbara Seal
    The University of California, Santa Barbara (commonly referred to as UC Santa Barbara or UCSB) is a public research university and one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. Founded in 1891 as an independent teachers’ college, UCSB joined the University of California system in 1944 and is the third-oldest general-education campus in the system. The university is a comprehensive doctoral university and is organized into five colleges offering 87 undergraduate degrees and 55 graduate degrees. In 2012, UCSB was ranked 41st among “National Universities” and 10th among public universities by U.S. News & World Report. UCSB houses twelve national research centers, including the renowned Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

  • richardmitnick 8:14 am on September 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Internet of Things security, NSF,   

    From University of Washington: “UW colleges, offices share three-year NSF grant to make ‘internet of things’ more secure” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    September 3, 2019


    Laura Osburn

    Carrie Dossick

    Jessica Beyer

    Chuck Benson

    Several University of Washington schools and offices will team up to research how organizational practices can affect the interagency collaboration needed to keep the “internet of things” — and institutional systems — safe and secure.


    Cooperating in the work, funded by the National Science Foundation, will be the UW College of Built Environments, College of Arts & Sciences and Jackson School of International Studies as well as UW Facilities and UW Information Technology.

    Devices connected to the internet of things, now becoming standard components in new buildings, can increase energy performance while reducing costs. But such highly connected sensors can also bring potential security vulnerabilities.

    And though technical solutions to such security concerns exist, implementing them can be impeded by differences in communication and work cultures between workers in information technology, and operations and maintenance. These challenges, together with a policy environment that rarely regulates internet of things devices, can increase risks and leave buildings vulnerable to attack.

    The NSF in August awarded a grant of $721,104 over three years to the Communication, Technology and Organizational Practices lab in the College of Built Environment’s Construction Management Department to study how organizational policies and procedures can help — or hinder — the needed collaboration between information technology and operations and maintenance professionals. The lab is housed in the department’s Center for Education and Research in Construction.

    Several UW faculty, staff and administrators are involved in the research. Co-principal investigators are Laura Osburn, a research scientist in the Center for Education and Research in Construction; and Carrie Dossick, professor of construction management.

    Jessica Beyer, lecturer, research scientist and co-director of the Jackson School’s Cybersecurity Initiative also is an investigator, as is Chuck Benson, director of the UW’s new risk mitigation strategy program for the internet of things.

    The three-year project will use the investigators’ expertise in communication, collaboration, cybersecurity policy and internet of things practices to study two critical areas:

    How operations and maintenance and information technology groups currently share their knowledge and skills to improve security for the internet of things; and
    How public policies and an organization’s own rules on privacy and security impact how information technology and operations and maintenance teams collaborate

    The team will work on these issues through ethnographic research of university cybersecurity efforts, interviews with information technology and operations and maintenance professionals and case studies of cybersecurity efforts in the built environments of higher education.

    A graduate research assistant and undergraduate students from the Jackson School’s Cybersecurity Initiative also will be involved in the work.

    The aim is to better understand how elements of organization, practice and policy interact and affect collaboration in keeping the internet of things safe and secure — and to provide clear examples of how such elements might help or hinder the necessary collaboration to implement smart building technologies.

    The interdisciplinary nature of the project is an important part of the approach, Osburn said.

    “What’s most important about this project is finding ways to help technology experts from different departments and different disciplines work and communicate better together so that they can keep our buildings safe and make sure that the data that internet of things devices are collecting stay secure.”

    Learn more at the project website.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 1:08 pm on September 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Faculty at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at UT Austin are leading the world-class Frontera science applications and technology team with partners from many universities, Frontera supercomputer at TACC is the fastest supercomputer at any university and the fifth most powerful system in the world., Frontera was built in early 2019 and earned the number five spot on the twice-annual Top500 list in June achieving 23.5 PetaFLOPS., In the coming months Frontera will integrate with cloud providers Microsoft; Google; and Amazon to provide researchers access to emerging computing technologies and long-term storage., Joined by representatives from NSF UT Austin launched Frontera with technology partners Dell; EMC; Intel; Mellanox; DataDirect Networks; NVIDIA; IBM; CoolIT; and Green Revolution Cooling., NSF, Projects will be selected through a competitive application process and researchers will need to show that they require a computer at the scale of Frontera to solve their problems., Some university partners are California Institute of Technology; Cornell University; Georgia Tech; Ohio State University; Princeton University; Stanford University., Still Other university partners are Texas A&M University; the University of Chicago; the University of Utah and the University of California Davis., Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)   

    From National Science Foundation: “NSF-funded leadership-class computing center boosts U.S. science with largest academic supercomputer in the world” 

    From National Science Foundation

    September 3, 2019

    Frontera, at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, will power discoveries of nation’s top computational scientists.

    TACC Frontera Dell EMC supercomputer fastest at any university

    Today, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) launched Frontera, the fastest supercomputer at any university and the fifth most powerful system in the world. The system is the result of a $60 million investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance the next generation of leadership class computing.

    Joined by representatives from NSF, UT Austin and technology partners Dell EMC, Intel, Mellanox, DataDirect Networks, NVIDIA, IBM, CoolIT and Green Revolution Cooling, TACC inaugurated a new era of academic supercomputing with a resource that will help the nation’s top scientists explore science at the largest scale and make the next generation of discoveries.

    “Scientific challenges demand computing and data at the largest and most complex scales possible. That’s what Frontera is all about,” said Jim Kurose, assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at NSF. “Frontera’s leadership-class computing capability will support the most computationally challenging science applications that U.S. scientists are working on today.”

    First announced in August 2018, Frontera was built in early 2019 and earned the number five spot on the twice-annual Top500 list in June, achieving 23.5 PetaFLOPS (one thousand million million floating-point operations-per-second) on the high-performance LINPACK benchmark, a measure of the system’s computing power.

    Frontera has been supporting science applications since June and has already enabled more than three dozen teams to conduct research on a range of topics from black hole physics to climate modeling to drug design, employing simulation, data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) at a scale not previously possible.

    Olexandr Isayev, a chemist from the University of North Carolina, used Frontera to run more than 3 million atomic force field calculations in less than 24 hours — a major achievement in high-speed quantum computation. The calculations are part of an effort to train an AI system that can predict the likely characteristics of new drug compounds and identify compounds with the ability to target specific cells.

    “It’s a great machine, especially for quantum mechanics applications,” Isayev said. “We’re really looking forward to running large-scale calculations that were not possible before.”

    Ganesh Balasubramanian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics at Lehigh University, has been using Frontera to study the dynamics of organic photovoltaic materials and model manufacturing conditions.

    “The lightning speed at which Frontera performs computations is very beneficial,” said Balasubramanian, who during the early user period experienced a five time speed-up in his simulations of solar material manufacturing. “Overall, the entire pace of computational research will be increased by the arrival of Frontera.”

    Manuela Campanelli, an astrophysicist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, has been using Frontera to perform the longest simulations ever of the merger of neutron stars, including for the 2017 event detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the Europe-based Virgo detector, and 70 ground- and space-based observatories.

    “Frontera is an amazing system because it gives us a very large number of computer nodes that we can use to solve very complex problems,” Campanelli said. “These types of resources are unavailable on most university campuses, so we really need to have Frontera in order to be able to do the simulation we do.”

    Frontera combines Dell EMC PowerEdge servers with 8,008 compute nodes, each of which contains two, second generation Intel Xeon scalable (“Cascade Lake”) processors, totaling more than 16,000 processors and nearly half a million cores, connected by a 200 gigbit-per-second HDR Mellanox InfiniBand high-speed network.

    The system incorporates innovative flash storage from DataDirect Networks and novel cooling systems from CoolIT, Cooltera and Green Revolution Cooling (GRC) and employs several emerging technologies at unprecedented scales, including high-powered, high-clock rate versions of the latest Intel Xeon processors, Intel Deep Learning Boost, Intel Optane memory and several kinds of liquid cooling.

    In August, Frontera added two new subsystems to provide additional performance and to explore alternate computational architectures for the future. A 360 NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU (graphics processing unit) system submerged in liquid coolant racks developed by GRC will explore more efficient ways to cool future systems, as well as explore single-precision optimized computing. An IBM POWER9-hosted system with 448 NVIDIA V100 GPUs will provide additional performance and provide the top-performing GPU architecture with tight coupling to the processor and memory subsystems. These additional systems will accelerate AI, machine learning and molecular dynamics research for Frontera researchers in areas ranging from cancer treatment to biophysics.

    In the coming months, Frontera will integrate with cloud providers Microsoft, Google and Amazon to provide researchers access to emerging computing technologies and long-term storage.

    Frontera (Spanish for “frontier”) will operate for at least five years and will support hundreds of research projects and thousands of researchers in nearly every field of science over its lifetime. It is expected to have a major impact on:

    Natural hazards modeling — predicting the trajectory and intensity of storms, and helping to design infrastructure that can withstand the strongest disasters;
    Genomics — including precision agriculture to feed the world’s growing population;
    Energy research — from fusion to solar power to cleaner coal.
    Astrophysics — including multimessenger astronomy and gravitational wave modeling.
    Materials sciences — using a combination of modeling and deep learning to accelerate the development of new molecules for medicine and engineering.

    Projects will be selected through a competitive application process and researchers will need to show that they require a computer at the scale of Frontera to solve their problems.

    Faculty at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at UT Austin are leading the world-class Frontera science applications and technology team, with partners from the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Georgia Tech, Ohio State University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Texas A&M University, the University of Chicago, the University of Utah and the University of California, Davis.

    Frontera will serve as a workhorse for the largest and most experienced computational users in the nation and a training ground for the next generation of scientists.

    “Academic researchers have never had a tool this powerful to solve the problems that matter to them,” said Dan Stanzione, TACC executive director. “We are proud to launch Frontera — a new, national resource for science that will power the discoveries of the future.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

    We fulfill our mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants — currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years — to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

    NSF’s goals — discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship — provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation’s research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. We like to say that NSF is “where discoveries begin.”

    Many of the discoveries and technological advances have been truly revolutionary. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won some 236 Nobel Prizes as well as other honors too numerous to list. These pioneers have included the scientists or teams that discovered many of the fundamental particles of matter, analyzed the cosmic microwaves left over from the earliest epoch of the universe, developed carbon-14 dating of ancient artifacts, decoded the genetics of viruses, and created an entirely new state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate.

    NSF also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. Examples of such major research equipment include giant optical and radio telescopes, Antarctic research sites, high-end computer facilities and ultra-high-speed connections, ships for ocean research, sensitive detectors of very subtle physical phenomena and gravitational wave observatories.

    Another essential element in NSF’s mission is support for science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond. The research we fund is thoroughly integrated with education to help ensure that there will always be plenty of skilled people available to work in new and emerging scientific, engineering and technological fields, and plenty of capable teachers to educate the next generation.

    No single factor is more important to the intellectual and economic progress of society, and to the enhanced well-being of its citizens, than the continuous acquisition of new knowledge. NSF is proud to be a major part of that process.

    Specifically, the Foundation’s organic legislation authorizes us to engage in the following activities:

    Initiate and support, through grants and contracts, scientific and engineering research and programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential, and education programs at all levels, and appraise the impact of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
    Award graduate fellowships in the sciences and in engineering.
    Foster the interchange of scientific information among scientists and engineers in the United States and foreign countries.
    Foster and support the development and use of computers and other scientific methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences.
    Evaluate the status and needs of the various sciences and engineering and take into consideration the results of this evaluation in correlating our research and educational programs with other federal and non-federal programs.
    Provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation and analysis of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation by other federal agencies.
    Determine the total amount of federal money received by universities and appropriate organizations for the conduct of scientific and engineering research, including both basic and applied, and construction of facilities where such research is conducted, but excluding development, and report annually thereon to the President and the Congress.
    Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.
    Initiate and support scientific and engineering research, including applied research, at academic and other nonprofit institutions and, at the direction of the President, support applied research at other organizations.
    Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering. Strengthen research and education innovation in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States.
    Support activities designed to increase the participation of women and minorities and others underrepresented in science and technology.

    At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Alexandria, VA, headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General.

    NSF is divided into the following seven directorates that support science and engineering research and education: Biological Sciences, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Education and Human Resources. Each is headed by an assistant director and each is further subdivided into divisions like materials research, ocean sciences and behavioral and cognitive sciences.

    Within NSF’s Office of the Director, the Office of Integrative Activities also supports research and researchers. Other sections of NSF are devoted to financial management, award processing and monitoring, legal affairs, outreach and other functions. The Office of the Inspector General examines the foundation’s work and reports to the NSB and Congress.

    Each year, NSF supports an average of about 200,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students at universities, laboratories and field sites all over the United States and throughout the world, from Alaska to Alabama to Africa to Antarctica. You could say that NSF support goes “to the ends of the earth” to learn more about the planet and its inhabitants, and to produce fundamental discoveries that further the progress of research and lead to products and services that boost the economy and improve general health and well-being.

    As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. NSF is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

    Unlike many other federal agencies, NSF does not hire researchers or directly operate our own laboratories or similar facilities. Instead, we support scientists, engineers and educators directly through their own home institutions (typically universities and colleges). Similarly, we fund facilities and equipment such as telescopes, through cooperative agreements with research consortia that have competed successfully for limited-term management contracts.

    NSF’s job is to determine where the frontiers are, identify the leading U.S. pioneers in these fields and provide money and equipment to help them continue. The results can be transformative. For example, years before most people had heard of “nanotechnology,” NSF was supporting scientists and engineers who were learning how to detect, record and manipulate activity at the scale of individual atoms — the nanoscale. Today, scientists are adept at moving atoms around to create devices and materials with properties that are often more useful than those found in nature.

    Dozens of companies are gearing up to produce nanoscale products. NSF is funding the research projects, state-of-the-art facilities and educational opportunities that will teach new skills to the science and engineering students who will make up the nanotechnology workforce of tomorrow.

    At the same time, we are looking for the next frontier.

    NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research.

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. We do this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. The Foundation considers proposals submitted by organizations on behalf of individuals or groups for support in most fields of research. Interdisciplinary proposals also are eligible for consideration. Awardees are chosen from those who send us proposals asking for a specific amount of support for a specific project.

    Proposals may be submitted in response to the various funding opportunities that are announced on the NSF website. These funding opportunities fall into three categories — program descriptions, program announcements and program solicitations — and are the mechanisms NSF uses to generate funding requests. At any time, scientists and engineers are also welcome to send in unsolicited proposals for research and education projects, in any existing or emerging field. The Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) provides guidance on proposal preparation and submission and award management. At present, NSF receives more than 42,000 proposals per year.

    To ensure that proposals are evaluated in a fair, competitive, transparent and in-depth manner, we use a rigorous system of merit review. Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers. NSF selects the reviewers from among the national pool of experts in each field and their evaluations are confidential. On average, approximately 40,000 experts, knowledgeable about the current state of their field, give their time to serve as reviewers each year.

    The reviewer’s job is to decide which projects are of the very highest caliber. NSF’s merit review process, considered by some to be the “gold standard” of scientific review, ensures that many voices are heard and that only the best projects make it to the funding stage. An enormous amount of research, deliberation, thought and discussion goes into award decisions.

    The NSF program officer reviews the proposal and analyzes the input received from the external reviewers. After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the program officer makes an “award” or “decline” recommendation to the division director. Final programmatic approval for a proposal is generally completed at NSF’s division level. A principal investigator (PI) whose proposal for NSF support has been declined will receive information and an explanation of the reason(s) for declination, along with copies of the reviews considered in making the decision. If that explanation does not satisfy the PI, he/she may request additional information from the cognizant NSF program officer or division director.

    If the program officer makes an award recommendation and the division director concurs, the recommendation is submitted to NSF’s Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA) for award processing. A DGA officer reviews the recommendation from the program division/office for business, financial and policy implications, and the processing and issuance of a grant or cooperative agreement. DGA generally makes awards to academic institutions within 30 days after the program division/office makes its recommendation.

  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on August 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NSF, ,   

    From University of Central Florida: “National Science Foundation Awards Arecibo Observatory $12.3 Million Grant” 

    From University of Central Florida

    August 14, 2019
    Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala

    NAIC Arecibo Observatory operated by University of Central Florida, Yang Enterprises and UMET, Altitude 497 m (1,631 ft).

    The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico today was awarded $12.3 million by the National Science Foundation to make repairs and improve resiliency of the facility managed by UCF.

    The congressionally supported emergency supplemental funds represent a significant investment in the long-term viability of the site to do cutting-edge observations of Earth’s atmosphere, asteroids, interstellar gas, distant galaxies, pulsars, fast radio bursts, and to search for gravitational waves from distant cataclysmic events.

    “NSF is excited to see the full potential of the Arecibo Observatory’s unique scientific capabilities realized as this restorative work is completed,” says Ashley Zauderer, program director at the National Science Foundation.

    The money will be used during the next four years to make a range of repairs and improvements to the facility, which will also expand Arecibo’s capabilities.

    “The grant will ensure that Arecibo Observatory remains a leading research and educational institution in the world,” says Francisco Cordova, the facility’s director. “The repairs and investment in infrastructure are critical to the long-term structural integrity of the radio telescope, reliability and quality of collected data, and improving overall performance of the systems.”

    UCF manages Arecibo under a cooperative agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc.

    The Arecibo Observatory received a $2 million grant in June 2018 after Hurricanes Irma and María ripped through the island and damaged the facility in 2017. Those funds were used to make emergency repairs such as fixing the catwalk that leads to the reflectors suspended above the 305-meter dish. In addition, buildings were repaired, generators were serviced, and first responder equipment was replaced. This funding also enabled the facility to prepare for the 2019 hurricane season.

    Projects from this grant include:

    Repairing one of the suspension cables holding the primary telescope platform, ensuring long-term structural integrity of one of the main structural elements of the telescope.
    Recalibrating the primary reflector, which will restore the observatory’s sensitivity at higher frequencies.
    Aligning the Gregorian Reflector, improving current calibration and pointing.
    Installing a new control system for S band radar, which is part of the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum.
    Replacing the modulator on the 430 MHz transmitter, increasing consistency of power output and data quality.
    Improving the telescope’s pointing controls and data tracking systems.

    Each of these projects is essential to the work conducted at the facility, which includes research in the areas of planetary radar, astronomy and space and atmospheric sciences, administrators say. The telescope has assisted in the understanding of gravitational waves, the theory of relativity, the discovery of new planets, and other research. The instruments also play an important role in monitoring asteroids that could pose a hazard to Earth.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in 1963 by the Florida Legislature, UCF opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University, with the mission of providing personnel to support the growing U.S. space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast. As the school’s academic scope expanded beyond engineering and technology, Florida Tech was renamed The University of Central Florida in 1978. UCF’s space roots continue, as it leads the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium. Initial enrollment was 1,948 students; enrollment today exceeds 66,000 students from 157 countries, all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    Most of the student population is on the university’s main campus, 13 miles (21 km) east of downtown Orlando and 35 miles (56 km) west of Cape Canaveral. The university offers more than 200 degrees through 13 colleges at 10 regional campuses in Central Florida, the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona, the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in south Orlando and the Center for Emerging Media in downtown Orlando.[13] Since its founding, UCF has awarded more than 290,000 degrees, including over 50,000 graduate and professional degrees, to over 260,000 alumni worldwide.

    UCF is a space-grant university. Its official colors are black and gold, and the university logo is Pegasus, which “symbolizes the university’s vision of limitless possibilities.” The university’s intercollegiate sports teams, known as the “UCF Knights” and represented by mascot Knightro, compete in NCAA Division I and the American Athletic Conference.

  • richardmitnick 10:44 am on July 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A case study in happy extremophiles", “When two organisms exist together and provide benefits to each other it’s difficult to make them survive without each other.”, Christopher Abin, Gas chromatography, Methanotrophic microorganisms, Microbe-hunters, Montana State University, NSF, NSF BuG ReMeDEE project (Building Genome-to-Phenome Infrastructure for Regulating Methane in Deep and Extreme Environments), South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD Mines), , University of Oklahoma   

    From Sanford Underground Research Facility: “A case study in happy extremophiles” 

    SURF logo
    Sanford Underground levels

    From Sanford Underground Research Facility

    July 19, 2019
    Erin Broberg

    Petri plate with colonies of a methanotrophic microorganism. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin

    If asked to describe your ideal environment, the odds are you wouldn’t opt for somewhere exceedingly salty, with an acidic pH or a dense supply of methane. However, some organisms (with fewer cells and vastly different standards than you and me) would say that sounds just about perfect.

    Researchers recently visited Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) to collect samples of organisms that prefer the damp, dark environment of the deep subsurface. Now, they are trying to replicate those seemingly abysmal conditions back in their laboratory. By providing the perfect conditions, researchers can selectively grow the bacteria they want to study.

    BuG ReMeDee researchers before their descent to the 4850 Level of Sanford Lab. Left to right: Roland Hatzenpichler, professor at Montana State University; Mackenzie Lynes, graduate student at Montana State University; Christopher Abin, postdoc at the University of Oklahoma; Christopher Garner, graduate student at OU; and Rosie Moon-Escamilla, graduate student at OU.

    This research is part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) BuG ReMeDee project (Building Genome-to-Phenome Infrastructure for Regulating Methane in Deep and Extreme Environments). This collaborative group of researchers from three universities is seeking to understand curious life forms called methanotrophs—organisms that survive by consuming methane.

    “Much of the general public looks at bacteria like germs, like something harmful,” said Christopher Abin, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oklahoma. “But what we see is that the vast majority of bacteria are incredibly important—without them, the earth wouldn’t really function properly. In fact, life on earth would cease to exist without bacteria.”

    In the effort to understand and utilize the creatures that feast on a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, each collaborating university has their niche.

    At South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD Mines), principal investigator Rajesh Sani’s team focuses on genetically engineering and improving methane-consuming microbes to create useable products and materials, such as biofuels, biodegradable plastics or electricity. At Montana State University (MSU), Robin Gerlach’s team is developing models that show how microbes consume methane and create energy. This helps scientists better understand how methane generated under such places as Yellowstone National Park and other geothermal environments and fossil fuel beds impacts our climate.

    But before models can be made and genes engineered, researchers need a solid understanding of how these organisms function. To study them in detail, researchers from the University of Oklahoma (OU) and under the lead of Lee Krumholz, collect and cultivate samples, isolating pure cultures of methanotrophs in the lab. There’s just one small setback: the organisms of interest come from some of our planet’s most extreme environments—environments that are quite difficult to replicate in a laboratory.

    As the microbe-hunters of the group, OU researchers go to various extreme environments—hot springs, lakes ten times saltier than the ocean, sulfur springs with no measurable oxygen content and locations in the deep subsurface, miles below the earth—in search of methanotrophs.

    “We don’t fully understand the flux of methane in these extreme environments,” said Abin. “These locations could be either a sink or a source of methane to the atmosphere. Little research has been devoted to understanding the microbes that inhabit these areas, so any samples we collect can be novel.”

    At Sanford Lab, researchers traveled deep underground to collect samples from biofilms and groundwater from boreholes on the 4850 Level and sediments from the 1700 Level.

    Christopher Abin sampling groundwater from a borehole on the 4850 Level of Sanford Lab. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin.

    “We also collected a sample from an exotic fungus growing on a wooden beam,” Abin said. “You don’t really know going in what you’re going to find, so you sample everything you think might be interesting. You might discover something really cool when you analyze it back in the lab.”

    During each excursion, the team takes two sets of samples. The first is dedicated to a DNA roll-call that identifies the hundreds—perhaps thousands—of species naturally present in that environment. The second set is dedicated to an advanced cultivation process in the lab, where researchers try to single out one or a few specific species through a process called enrichment.

    “In the lab, we put our samples in bottles that can be sealed completely then add concentrations of gases like methane and oxygen at precise concentrations. As the methanotrophs consume methane, the concentration slowly decreases,” explained Abin.

    Glass bottles containing s​​​​ediment samples incubating with methane and oxygen. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin.

    Called a gas chromatograph, this instrument is used to measure methane in the glass bottles. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin.

    “Once it is mostly depleted, we dilute the cultures to get rid of the background microbes we don’t want, achieving a higher proportion of just the methanotrophs,” said Abin. “We take a small amount of that liquid and place it onto a petri plate containing a semisolid material called agar to provide a substrate for the bacteria to grow on. As the bacteria grow, they produce visible colonies that we can purify further through a process called streaking.”

    A petri plate with colonies of a methanotrophic microorganism growing on agar. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin.

    At the end of the streaking process, researchers hope to isolate the single species from the multitudes present. Sometimes, however, organisms resist, preferring a more social environment.

    “Species don’t grow in pure cultures in their natural environment,” said Rosie Moon-Escamilla, a graduate student at OU. “When two organisms exist together and provide benefits to each other, it’s difficult to make them survive without each other.”

    If the methanotroph is growing in co-culture with another organism that is providing some sort of benefit to them, such as removing toxic substances or suppling a certain vitamin, the isolation process can get complicated.

    “You do a lot of work to get the organism isolated, always knowing in the back of your mind that they are happier in co-culture,” said Moon-Escamilla. “Sometimes, it may not be impractical to isolate them into distinct pure cultures, it may be impossible.”

    At the end of multiple rounds of streaking, if researchers have achieved a pure culture, they can begin to characterize them—What temperatures do they enjoy? Which solidities do they fancy?—to better understand the microbial preferences.

    “The challenge of microbiology cultivation in general is how to replicate the environment you sample from,” said Christopher Garner, an OU graduate student. “We estimate that 90 percent of all microorganisms out there haven’t been cultivated in the lab, because it’s just something that’s really hard to do. When your samples are from an extreme environment, that adds additional challenges that makes it more difficult to cultivate.”

    Collected from vastly differing locations, the physiology of these organisms varies—each suited to its own extreme environment—and each must be assessed and studied individually. The binding commonality, however, is that these organisms use methane as their energy source and have enormous potential in bioengineering applications.

    Assorted methanotroph cultures in OU laboratory. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin.

    “We’ve done a lot of work with media manipulation,” Moon-Escamilla said. “If you tailor the media to the specific location, being mindful of the salt and pH levels or different minerals present at each collection site, you have a better chance of increasing the number of microbes that will grow in the lab.”

    A microscope and image of a methane-consuming microbial consortium from one of an enrichment culture in the OU lab. Photo courtesy Christopher Abin.

    Much of the work involves experimentation, testing the conditions and letting the organism’s response inform the process.

    “There is immense value in traditional microbiology work—cultivating microbes from the environment and learning about their metabolisms,” Garner said. “We’ve only begun to understand really how many different kinds of microbes there are out there.”

    “The overarching goals of the BuG ReMeDEE consortium are to investigate methane cycling in deep and extreme environments and develop new biological routes for converting methane into value-added products,” said principal investigator Rajesh Sani. “Using ‘genome-to-phenome’ approaches, the consortium and will address critical regional, national and global issues of methane cycling, global warming, renewable energy and carbon neutrality.”

    “This collaboration will allow our groups to synergistically solve problems that could not be dealt with alone. I feel strongly that our work on isolating and better understanding methanotrophs at SURF and other locations will allow us to better understand the fate of methane and its role as a greenhouse gas,” said Lee Krumholz, who leads the work being done at OU.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About us.
    The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, advances our understanding of the universe by providing laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos. The facility also hosts experiments in other disciplines—including geology, biology and engineering.

    The Sanford Lab is located at the former Homestake gold mine, which was a physics landmark long before being converted into a dedicated science facility. Nuclear chemist Ray Davis earned a share of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002 for a solar neutrino experiment he installed 4,850 feet underground in the mine.

    Homestake closed in 2003, but the company donated the property to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the project. The South Dakota Legislature also created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority to operate the lab. The state Legislature has committed more than $40 million in state funds to the project, and South Dakota also obtained a $10 million Community Development Block Grant to help rehabilitate the facility.

    In 2007, after the National Science Foundation named Homestake as the preferred site for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) began reopening the former gold mine.

    In December 2010, the National Science Board decided not to fund further design of DUSEL. However, in 2011 the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agreed to support ongoing science operations at Sanford Lab, while investigating how to use the underground research facility for other longer-term experiments. The SDSTA, which owns Sanford Lab, continues to operate the facility under that agreement with Berkeley Lab.

    The first two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are 4,850 feet underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is housed in the same cavern excavated for Ray Davis’s experiment in the 1960s.

    LBNL LZ project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA, will replace LUX at SURF

    In October 2013, after an initial run of 80 days, LUX was determined to be the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment, also on the 4850 Level, is searching for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle. Detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay could help determine why matter prevailed over antimatter. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is adjacent to the original Davis cavern.

    LUX’s mission was to scour the universe for WIMPs, vetoing all other signatures. It would continue to do just that for another three years before it was decommissioned in 2016.

    In the midst of the excitement over first results, the LUX collaboration was already casting its gaze forward. Planning for a next-generation dark matter experiment at Sanford Lab was already under way. Named LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ), the next-generation experiment would increase the sensitivity of LUX 100 times.

    SLAC physicist Tom Shutt, a previous co-spokesperson for LUX, said one goal of the experiment was to figure out how to build an even larger detector.
    “LZ will be a thousand times more sensitive than the LUX detector,” Shutt said. “It will just begin to see an irreducible background of neutrinos that may ultimately set the limit to our ability to measure dark matter.”
    We celebrate five years of LUX, and look into the steps being taken toward the much larger and far more sensitive experiment.

    Another major experiment, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE)—a collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Sanford Lab, is in the preliminary design stages. The project got a major boost last year when Congress approved and the president signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund LBNE operations through FY 2014. Called the “next frontier of particle physics,” LBNE will follow neutrinos as they travel 800 miles through the earth, from FermiLab in Batavia, Ill., to Sanford Lab.

    FNAL LBNE/DUNE from FNAL to SURF, Lead, South Dakota, USA


    U Washington Majorana Demonstrator Experiment at SURF

    The MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR will contain 40 kg of germanium; up to 30 kg will be enriched to 86% in 76Ge. The DEMONSTRATOR will be deployed deep underground in an ultra-low-background shielded environment in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, SD. The goal of the DEMONSTRATOR is to determine whether a future 1-tonne experiment can achieve a background goal of one count per tonne-year in a 4-keV region of interest around the 76Ge 0νββ Q-value at 2039 keV. MAJORANA plans to collaborate with GERDA for a future tonne-scale 76Ge 0νββ search.

    LBNL LZ project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA


    CASPAR is a low-energy particle accelerator that allows researchers to study processes that take place inside collapsing stars.

    The scientists are using space in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, to work on a project called the Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR). CASPAR uses a low-energy particle accelerator that will allow researchers to mimic nuclear fusion reactions in stars. If successful, their findings could help complete our picture of how the elements in our universe are built. “Nuclear astrophysics is about what goes on inside the star, not outside of it,” said Dan Robertson, a Notre Dame assistant research professor of astrophysics working on CASPAR. “It is not observational, but experimental. The idea is to reproduce the stellar environment, to reproduce the reactions within a star.”

  • richardmitnick 3:32 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chess- Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, CHEXS @ CHESS, , NSF, While other synchrotron laboratories are traditionally located at national labs Cornell is the only U.S. university still operating a large accelerator complex.   

    From Cornell Chronicle: “Cornell announces $54M from NSF for new CHESS subfacility” 

    From Cornell Chronicle

    The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, more commonly known as CHESS, entered a new era April 1.

    Guebre Tessema, right, NSF materials research program director, tours the CHESS facility June 3 with CHESS director Joel Brock. Jason Koski/Cornell University

    A national research facility that annually attracts more than 1,200 users – who conduct X-ray analysis and collect data for research in materials, biomedical and other science fields – CHESS has been funded exclusively by the National Science Foundation since its commissioning in 1980. That changed in April, with Cornell transitioning to a new funding model in which multiple partners will steward facilities at CHESS.

    The NSF remains the largest of these contributing partners, and the science agency on July 18 announced that it will provide $54 million in federal funding over the next five years for a research and education subfacility at Wilson Laboratory, the home of CHESS.

    The NSF funding will be provided by its Division of Materials Research, the Directorate of Biology and the Directorate of Engineering.

    The newly funded NSF portion of the facility will be known as the Center for High-Energy X-ray Sciences at CHESS (CHEXS @ CHESS), and will include four beamlines and staff to support high-energy X-ray science user operations, X-ray technology research and development, and CHEXS leadership. In addition to research, CHEXS will support education and training, particularly of researchers in biological sciences, engineering and materials research.

    Figure 1: New beamline sectors shown on the expanded floor space created by removing the CLEO detector (white rectangle), the CHESS West beamlines, power supplies in the west flare (shown occupied by sector 4 on left) and the west RF area (shown occupied by hutch ID3B).

    “The renewal of NSF funding for CHESS will ensure America and Cornell University remain at the the cutting edge of innovation in high-energy X-ray applications,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “CHESS is a unique training ground for the scientific workforce we need to keep the U.S. competitive, and is part of the lifeblood of our scientific community, enabling researchers to make advancements in everything from clean energy technologies to stronger, more resilient infrastructure. I have been proud to fight and deliver funding to support CHESS and the NSF, and will continue to do so.”

    “CHESS is a groundbreaking facility that provides world-class scientific research to upstate New York and the nation, including our military,” said Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “This federal funding will be used to support the Center for High-Energy X-ray Sciences, which will advance the state’s research and high-tech manufacturing sectors. CHESS continues to be a leader in upstate New York’s innovation economy.”

    “By supporting CHEXS, NSF is furthering new, unique, experimental capabilities for emerging research in materials, engineering and biology,” said Guebre X. Tessema, NSF materials research program director. “The new funding model unleashes a reinvented CHESS to pursue new partnerships with other federal agencies, universities and industry.”

    “We are always excited to continue our relationship with the NSF,” said Joel Brock, CHESS director and professor of applied and engineering physics. CHESS’s most recent grant renewal from the NSF came in 2014.

    “This support goes a long way in already securing funding from additional partners,” Brock said, “and ensures that this vital X-ray facility will remain productive into the future.”

    On June 4, CHESS held its annual users’ meeting, where Brock and Tessema toured the CHEXS research facility, showcasing the expansive space available to researchers.

    CHESS recently completed a $15 million upgrade, solidifying the lab’s standing as a world-leading X-ray source. Earlier this year, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul came to CHESS to celebrate the successful completion of the upgrade, which was funded by New York state. This project improved the infrastructure of the storage ring and CHESS’s X-ray beamlines, while also creating jobs by helping to expand the advanced manufacturing sector of central New York.

    After the installation of new undulator sources in all of its X-ray beamlines, CHESS is now considered a true third-generation (state-of-the-art) light source, and is equipped for studies of materials at the macroscopic level.

    With the recent upgrade and CHEXS’s new five-year cooperative agreement from the NSF, the lab is taking the opportunity to engineer a major transition in its funding model and organizational structure.

    For more than 30 years, the NSF has been the sole steward of CHESS, providing the funding needed to operate the large facility. CHESS will now transition from sole stewardship by the NSF as a national user facility and into a partner-funded laboratory.

    According to Brock, this funding reconfiguration presents a rare opportunity to redistribute the nation’s synchrotron resources among research communities.

    “Diverse groups including plant biology, structural materials and advanced manufacturing are eager to utilize a much larger fraction of the nation’s available synchrotron resources,” said Brock. “Using X-rays is a highly desirable technique that can transform your research, and this new NSF funding will help us reach a wider user base.”

    While CHESS attracts in excess of 1,200 users from around the world to perform research at the facility, roughly half of the submitted research proposals are denied due to a lack of beamtime availability. By diversifying the funding sources, CHESS hopes also to diversify and expand the research of the lab.

    “Since the facility owns the equipment, the responsibility for beamlines can be reassigned among the funding partners quickly without having to transfer assets,” Brock said. “By enabling partners like the NSF to align their support with evolving research needs, CHESS is able to offer its new partners access to the synchrotron radiation facility more rapidly.”

    While other partners contribute money for research at the X-ray facility, the NSF will remain CHESS’s largest funding member of these partner organizations. This allows researchers to focus on using the high-flux X-rays at CHESS that are optimized for time-resolved, high-energy applications. These types of X-rays are ideal for researching quantum materials, fuel cells and high-pressure biological processes.

    While other synchrotron laboratories are traditionally located at national labs, Cornell is the only U.S. university still operating a large accelerator complex. The university graduates roughly 20 percent of the nation’s Ph.D.s trained in accelerator science and advanced X-ray technology, and approximately 60 undergraduates participate in CHESS laboratory research every year.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on May 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cal Teach, NSF,   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “NSF grant supports training of math and science teachers at UC Santa Cruz” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    From UC Santa Cruz

    May 13, 2019
    Tim Stephens

    $1.45 million grant continues NSF support for UCSC’s Cal Teach program, funding an integrated pathway to recruit and train new teachers for the Central Coast region.

    Cal Teach participants at a workshop on active learning strategies.

    UC Santa Cruz has received a $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to recruit and prepare new math and science teachers in partnership with regional school districts and community colleges.

    This is the third in a series of five-year NSF grants supporting the UC Santa Cruz Cal Teach program and Education Department in their efforts to increase the number and retention of new, highly qualified science and math teachers in high-need California public schools.

    “The goal for this project is to strengthen the regional pipeline that supports students who are interested in math and science teaching careers,” said Cal Teach Program Director Gretchen Andreasen.

    The Cal Teach program serves UCSC undergraduates in science, mathematics, or engineering majors, as well as prospective transfer students from regional community colleges, who are interested in teaching careers. The program offers a sequence of internship placements in schools during the academic year, as well as summer teaching internships.

    Cal Teach workshops and seminars help to support students and prepare them for teaching careers. The program also provides academic and career advising, enrichment opportunities, and financial support for prospective or novice science and math teachers. In addition to serving undergraduates, the program welcomes STEM professionals who want to explore teaching careers.

    Much of the funding from the Noyce program grant will go toward scholarships for Cal Teach participants to enter the combined M.A./teaching credential program offered by the UC Santa Cruz Education Department.

    “The Noyce Scholarships make a big difference for the credential program in terms of maintaining the size and strength of the math and science cohorts,” Andreasen said.

    The NSF grant also funds stipends for interns and their mentors in partner schools and for early-career professional development for graduates of the program. About 30 percent of Cal Teach participants go on to careers in teaching, Andreasen said.

    “Cal Teach provided me the opportunity to see myself in multiple classroom settings as I considered a career in education,” said Noyce Scholar Madeleine Swift. “From my internships, I knew I wanted to be an educator.”

    UCSC’s community college partners in this project are Hartnell College, Cabrillo College, and San Jose City College. The five school district partners are Gonzales Unified, Salinas Union High School, Pajaro Valley Unified, Santa Cruz City Schools, and East Side Union High School District.

    By recruiting participants from regional community colleges, the Cal Teach program aims to support prospective math and science teachers who are likely to remain in the area and teach in the partner school districts. Dozens of the program’s graduates are now teaching at schools in the Monterey Bay, Salinas Valley, and San Jose regions.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)


    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

  • richardmitnick 2:41 pm on November 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NSF, , R/V Taani,   

    From National Science Foundation: “Construction begins on research ship funded by NSF, operated by Oregon State University” 

    From National Science Foundation

    November 7, 2018

    Cheryl Dybas, NSF
    (703) 292-7734

    Sean Nealon, OSU
    (541) 737-0787

    R/V Taani,

    Construction begins on a new research ship that will advance understanding of coastal environments.

    Construction began today in Houma, Louisiana, on the R/V Taani, a new research ship that will advance the scientific understanding of coastal environments by supporting studies of ocean acidification, hypoxia, sea level rise and other topics.

    Operated by Oregon State University (OSU), Taani (pronounced “tahnee”), a word that means “offshore” in the language of the Siletz people of the Pacific Northwest, will be the first in a series of Regional Class Research Vessels funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    Officials from NSF, OSU and Gulf Island Shipyards, LLC gathered for the keel-laying ceremony, marking the start of fabrication of this state-of-the-art ship.

    “NSF is proud that Taani will be the flagship for a new class of research vessels, and we eagerly anticipate decades of productive oceanography from Taani to support the nation’s science, engineering and education needs,” says Terrence Quinn, director of NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences.

    During the ceremony, former OSU president John Byrne and his wife Shirley, the ship’s ceremonial sponsors, inscribed their initials into the ship’s keel.

    Research missions aboard Taani will focus on the U.S. West Coast. NSF has funded OSU to build a second, similar research vessel, which will be operated by a consortium led by the University of Rhode Island.

    “This new class of modern vessels will support future research on the physical, chemical, biological and geologic processes in coastal waters,” says Roberta Marinelli, dean of OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. “The research is critical to informing strategies for coastal resilience, food security and hazard mitigation not only in the Pacific Northwest but around the world.”

    For example, the ship will be equipped to conduct detailed seafloor mapping to reveal geologic structures important in subduction zone earthquakes that may trigger tsunamis.

    The 199-foot Taani will have a range of more than 5,000 nautical miles, with berths for 16 scientists and 13 crew members; a cruising speed of 11.5 knots; and a maximum speed of 13 knots. The ship will be able to stay at sea for about 21 days before returning to port and will routinely send streams of data to shore via satellite.

    NSF selected OSU to lead the design, shipyard selection, construction and transition to operations for as many as three new Regional Class Research Vessels for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet. The National Science Board — NSF’s oversight body — authorized as much as $365 million for the project as part of NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction portfolio.

    NSF awarded OSU $121.88 million to launch the construction of the first ship. This past summer, the funding was supplemented with an additional $88 million, allowing Gulf Island Shipyards, LLC to proceed with the second vessel.

    Taani is scheduled for delivery to OSU in the spring of 2021. After a year of outfitting and testing, the ship will be fully operational.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

  • richardmitnick 10:08 am on September 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NSF, , , Rutgers Receives NSF Award to Continue Pioneering Ocean Initiative, , ,   

    From Rutgers University: “Rutgers Receives NSF Award to Continue Pioneering Ocean Initiative” 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    September 25, 2018

    Dalya Ewais

    The project delivers insight to researchers, policymakers and the public worldwide.

    The National Science Foundation this week announced it has awarded a five-year, $220 million contract to a coalition of academic and oceanographic research organizations, including Rutgers University–New Brunswick, to operate and maintain the Ocean Observatories Initiative [OOI].

    The coalition, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with direction from the NSF, includes Rutgers, the University of Washington and Oregon State University.


    The initiative includes platforms and sensors that measure physical, chemical, geological and biological properties and processes from the seafloor to the sea surface in key coastal and open-ocean sites of the Atlantic and Pacific. It was designed to address critical questions about the Earth-ocean system, including climate change, ecosystem variability, ocean acidification plate-scale seismicity and submarine volcanoes, and carbon cycling. The goal is to better understand the ocean and our planet.

    The seafloor cable extends off the coast of Oregon and allows real-time communication with the deep sea. University of Washington

    Each institution will continue to operate and maintain the portion of project’s assets for which it is currently responsible. Rutgers will operate the cyberinfrastructure system that ingests and delivers data for the initiative.

    The initiative supports more than 500 autonomous instruments on the seafloor and on moored and free-swimming platforms that are serviced during regular, ship-based expeditions to the array sites. Data from each instrument is transmitted to shore, where it is freely available to users worldwide, including scientists, policy experts, decision-makers, educators and the general public.

    “Rutgers is proud to be a part of this transformative project that provides scientists and educators across the globe access to the richest source of real-time, in-water oceanographic data,” said David Kimball, interim senior vice president for research and economic development at Rutgers.

    Over the last three years, the Rutgers team led by Manish Parashar, director of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute and Distinguished Professor of computer science, designed, built and operated the OOI’s cyberinfrastructure. The team also included Scott Glenn and Oscar Schofield, Distinguished Professors in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences and co-founders of Rutgers’ Center for Ocean Observing Leadership, who led the Rutgers data team.

    From left to right: Manish Parashar, director of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute and Distinguished Professor of computer science; Peggy Brennan-Tonetta, associate vice president for economic development at Rutgers’ Office of Research and Economic Development; and Ivan Rodero, project manager.
    Photo: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University

    For the second phase of the OOI project, which begins on October 1 and runs for five years, Rutgers will receive about $6.6 million and will be responsible for maintaining the cyberinfrastructure and providing a network that allows 24/7 connectivity, ensuring sustained, reliable worldwide ocean observing data any time, any place, on any computer or mobile device. Peggy Brennan-Tonetta, associate vice president for economic development at Rutgers’ Office of Research and Economic Development, will serve as acting principal investigator.

    “Greater awareness and knowledge of the state of our oceans and the effects of their interrelated systems today is critical to a deeper understanding of our changing climate, marine and coastal ecosystems, atmospheric exchanges, and geodynamics. We are pleased to continue our involvement with this project that enables researchers to better understand the state of our oceans,” Brennan-Tonetta said.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on September 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cornell’s Center for Advanced Computing (CAC) was named a training partner on a $60 million National Science Foundation-funded project to build the fastest supercomputer at any U.S. university and o, , NSF,   

    From Cornell Chronicle: “Cornell writing the (how-to) book on new supercomputer” 

    Cornell Bloc

    From Cornell Chronicle

    September 18, 2018
    Melanie Lefkowitz

    Cornell’s Center for Advanced Computing (CAC) was named a training partner on a $60 million, National Science Foundation-funded project to build the fastest supercomputer at any U.S. university and one of the most powerful in the world.


    CAC will develop training materials to help users get the most out of the Frontera supercomputer, to be deployed in summer 2019 at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Texas Advanced Computer Center

    “Computers don’t do great work unless you have people ready to use them for great research. Being able to be the on-ramp for a system like this is really valuable,” said Rich Knepper, CAC’s deputy director. “This represents the next step in leadership computing, and it’s an opportunity for Cornell to be a very integral part of that.”

    CAC, which provides high-performance computing and cloud computing services to the Cornell community and beyond, will receive $1 million from the NSF over the next five years to create Cornell Virtual Workshops – online content explaining how to use Frontera.

    The Texas Advanced Computing Center will build the supercomputer, with the primary computing system provided by Dell EMC and powered by Intel processors. Other partners in the project are the California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Utah, the University of California, Davis, Ohio State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

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