AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. The LDRD symposium is one of the most important ways that NNSA can highlight the outstanding science and research being done across our enterprise. I am honored to be able to join you today to announce a major new initiative -- our Nuclear Science and Security Consortium. This new effort will bring together DOE laboratories and some of our nation’s best universities to improve the science and technology of our NNSA nuclear nonproliferation programs.
When he took office, President Obama used his first foreign policy speech, during his first international trip to outline his vision for confronting nuclear dangers. As he said on that day in Prague, the threat of a terrorist acquiring and using a nuclear weapon is the most immediate and extreme threat we face.
In response to that threat, the President outlined an ambitious and comprehensive nuclear security agenda. We have already made significant progress in locking down vulnerable nuclear materials and New START has been ratified, but much more remains to be done.
We recognize the need to invest in research and development for two reasons. First, we need to create new technologies to detect nuclear proliferation or testing, and to monitor compliance with nuclear nonproliferation and arms control agreements.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, we need to invest in the next generation of nuclear nonproliferation expertise and provide links between the talented students in our universities and the nonproliferation challenges that our national laboratories will confront in the future.
To me, this is key. Investing in the scientific and technical underpinnings of our program is critical to implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda and to preventing nuclear terrorism or nuclear proliferation.
Today, I am happy to announce a new partnership between Academia and our DOE National Laboratories that will help us meet those goals.
Our Nuclear Science and Security Consortium represents our plan for investing in a strong personnel pipeline of new technical talent for the DOE Laboratories. This partnership of seven universities and four national labs has at its core a goal to build the next generation of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation and security expertise.
This is a sizeable and sustained investment. We have committed to funding $5 million a year for the next five years.
The competition for the program included some of the best universities in the country and the selection process was difficult. The universities chosen represent some of the top institutions in the technical fields most relevant for nuclear nonproliferation. Four University of California schools – Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, and the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation – along with Michigan State University, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Washington University in Saint Louis. These academic institutions have joined with Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories to form an outstanding team. Our vision is that this team represents a bridge between two research communities – a two-way bridge that will benefit both our university partners and our laboratories.
The Consortium will focus on hands-on training in the core set of experimental disciplines that support the non-proliferation and nuclear security mission: nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, nuclear instrumentation, and nuclear engineering. Through adjunct professorships and appointments, lab-hosted summer school courses, and mission-centric workshops, the consortium will allow university students and researchers access to the facilities and research available to our national laboratories. This will enable collaborative efforts with our world class researchers at our national labs.
To attract the best and the brightest students, we plan to couple basic science research to technology developments relevant to the nuclear security mission. This will help us draw top talent into the workforce pipeline, while also helping us leverage the outstanding science and research being performed at the consortium campuses and our laboratories.
As we push the boundaries of science and discovery, partnerships like the National Science and Security Consortium are a vital part of our effort to invest in the future of our programs by building a strong pipeline of new technical talent to our laboratories
I am happy to announce the creation of this consortium as it begins a new chapter in our academic-laboratory relationship. I would like to especially congratulate the University of California at Berkeley, as the lead institution, and the other university consortium members for the outstanding proposal they submitted. UC Berkeley will be hosting its own kick-off event tomorrow.
We are looking forward to great research results from the team and the opportunity to work with our nation’s brightest young minds.