2023 TAMUS-LANL Research Collaboration Program Research Projects
Research Projects, a joint effort by the Texas A&M University System National Laboratories Office (TAMUS NLO) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), fund multi-year research and development projects collaboratively executed by TAMUS and LANL researchers. These Projects support the laboratory missions, develop researcher collaborations with an eye toward future external collaborative research, and provide a pipeline of students interested in working with LANL.
For 2023, LANL has identified the following thematic areas as priorities for these collaborations:
Nuclear Detection, Measurement and Reactor Design supports LANL’s Nuclear and Particle Futures and the Science of Signatures Capability Pillars – LANL engages broadly in nuclear science and engineering in areas ranging from the physics of nuclear detection and measurement, to engineering of new sensing systems and addressing real-world technical challenges in nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear energy.
Data Management and High-Performance Computing supports LANL’s Information Science and Technology Pillar – LANL is engaged in a broad spectrum of research in this area including novel architectures for both numerical simulation and data analytics from the chip (and sub-chip) level through to large-scale deployable systems, all with a focus on co-design.
Energy Resilience and Materials for Clean energy supports LANL’s Materials for the Future and Complex Natural and Engineered Systems Capability Pillars – LANL energy missions include the design, synthesis and testing of materials that enable renewable energy technologies, hydrogen and carbon sequestration and renewable energy research. Research in this area is broad, including fuel cell technology, advanced materials for nuclear reactors, biofuels and materials for energy storage.
Open door for Innovation – Compelling and timely ideas that match well with all capability pillars of LANL, independent of these stated priorities.
For more details on these areas, please refer to https://www.lanl.gov/science-innovation/pillars/index.php
*Learn more on the LANL FY23 mission priorities from John Sarrao (Deputy Director- Science, Technology and Engineering) (Video). Also available here is the LANL 2022 Lab Agenda covering all areas of interest.
Description of Research Projects
Research Projects are the third and most extensive element of three funding opportunities offered through the TAMUS NLO Collaborative Research Program with LANL. Funding for a typical Research Project supports one graduate student (stipend, tuition, and fees) and one month of time for a TAMUS researcher (the student’s advisor) per year, for up to four years. The student should be in the initial stages of starting the research program (a graduate student in the first year of their academic program), identified in the proposal if possible, and employed for the life of the project. Funded students are expected to spend one or more summers (or similar time periods) at LANL under the supervision of a LANL co-advisor, who is typically a co-author of the proposal and co-executor of the research. Continued funding throughout the proposed project period is contingent upon satisfactory progress and availability of funds.
Applicants are free to propose different allocations of approximately the same level of funding described above. Funding is provided jointly by the NLO and LANL: the NLO will support PI effort and LANL will issue contracts to support the student, travel, and related expenses. Expenses incurred prior to application approval will not be reimbursed. The project will not be approved to begin until the student is approved by LANL.
Applications will be accepted from any full-time PI-eligible researcher (except those with postdoctoral appointments) from any TAMUS Member entity. Applications with the following characteristics have the best chance of receiving funding:
- TAMUS and LANL researchers have a history of a budding partnership that has not yet progressed to the point of jointly proposing on outside funding.
- LANL leadership sees value in a long-term relationship with proposed TAMUS researcher(s).
- Project engages one graduate student for the duration of their graduate program, with potential for LANL employment.
- Proposed TAMUS researcher, or researcher’s group, appears likely to produce a new and steady stream of graduates with potential for LANL employment, for many years to come.
- Proposed research and development improve a key LANL capability and/or address one of its missions needs and relates to a research area for which the laboratory has stable, long-term funding.
- Proposed research and development have potential for high impact.
- Potential for this individual project collaboration to identify with larger impact programs outside of LANL (e.g., NNSA, DOE, DoD), and enduring funding sources.
The application must name at least one LANL technical staff member who has agreed to partner with the TAMUS researcher(s) on the proposed effort, supervise the funded student during their stays at LANL, and serve on the student’s research advisory committee.
Funded partners must participate in a kickoff meeting, and submit annual progress reports and complete a joint panel mid-term review (which may be accomplished through fall student showcase). A final project report is required. The mid-term joint panel review, while not a complete technical review, will ensure that progress is being made, assist in possible larger applications, provide assistance to mitigate ongoing barriers, and review student pipeline opportunities.
Proposal reviewers chosen by the NLO and LANL will select applications for funding in accordance with joint TAMUS-LANL priorities, subject to availability of funds. The review process is described below.
A major goal of this program is to launch collaborations that have the potential to secure long-term funding from sources external to LANL. This will not affect the technical evaluation of a proposal submitted by a previous program awardee, but given the limited number of awards per year, it may affect the final funding decisions made by the Strategic Review Panel and LANL leadership.
While this is an open call, DOE eligibility for funding is a factor in determining recipients. Please contact us if you have any questions.
How to Apply for A Research Project
Applications must be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 23, 2022. The Review Committee will notify awardees by summer 2023. Application materials should be submitted as PDF documents. TAMUS Sponsored Research Services does not need to be involved at this initial stage of proposal submittal.
The application should contain the following documents:
- Personnel Description, with two Sections
- Proposal Narrative
- Budget and Timeline
- Curriculum Vitae/Resumes
Document arrangement should be as follows:
- Section 1 of Personnel Description Document: Texas A&M System Applicant Information – Provide information about the TAMUS principal investigator (and co-principal investigators, if any), including:
- Title (e.g., Assistant Professor)
- TAMUS entity and department (e.g., PVAMU Mathematics)
- Citizenship (e.g., U.S. permanent resident)
- Email address and phone number
- LANL priority area to which you are applying
- Student information: Explain how project leaders will ensure that the student chosen for funding have the potential for LANL employment. Should be first year graduate student when funding becomes available in fall 2023; second year students will be given full consideration.
- Pipeline information: Briefly discuss long-term prospects for TAMUS researcher’s program to produce future graduates with potential for LANL employment.
Section 2 of Personnel Description Document: LANL Collaborator Information – Provide information about the identified LANL collaborator(s), including:
- Title (e.g., Engineer 3
- Division and group (e.g., CCS-2)
- Evidence that the named LANL collaborator(s) have agreed to partner with the TAMUS applicant to execute the proposed effort, supervise the funded student(s) when at LANL and serve on the students’ research committees (e.g., an email from collaborator(s)).
- Description of previous collaborative efforts between proposed TAMUS and LANL collaborators (e.g., LANL Fellow relationship, joint publications, joint proposals, co-supervised students).
- Proposal Narrative Document – Describe the proposed research project and explain how it supports long-term LANL missions, capability pillars, or initiatives and the expected impact of the proposed project. Include the following sections, but do not exceed ten (10) pages total (including summary and references):
- Summary: In one (1) page or less, explain what is proposed, what motivates the research, and what the impact will be. Explanation should allow a technical person from a different discipline to understand.
- Motivation: Explain the current state of the topic area with references to previous work and why improvements are needed.
- Proposed activities: Describe what will be done, what new knowledge or technology will be gained, etc.
- Expected impact: How will the research impact areas such as the technical field, key LANL capabilities, LANL mission delivery, etc.?
- Roles: Who will do what?
- LANL visits: List time periods planned for TAMUS personnel to be at LANL (with understanding that plans may evolve).
- Budget and Timeline Document – Provide a budget breakdown per year and an approximate timeline. A formal budget generated by TAMUS Sponsored Research Services will only be required if the proposal is selected for funding. At application time, only an itemization of expenses is required. For example:
- X salary support: one month plus benefits per year.
- GAR support: $2,200/month + tuition + fees; Texas A&M College of Science.
- Travel: student travel once/year to Los Alamos, New Mexico, with student lodging near LANL two months/year; Dr. X travel to LANL once/year; Dr. X and student travel to conference once/year.
- Equipment: list and estimate costs.
- Materials and supplies: list and estimate costs.
- Other: list and estimate costs.
*Do not included overhead costs at this stage. If selected, these will be appropriately allocated at a later time.
- TAMUS researcher(s) and student (if available) Curriculum Vitae (PDF documents) and LANL researcher(s) Curriculum Vitae or Resume(s) (PDF documents).
- TAMUS researchers Current and Pending Funding report.
Application Review Procedure
The NLO’s Strategic Review Panel (SRP) will oversee and complete the final selection of all research project applications once the application window has closed. The SRP is comprised of researchers and executives from TAMUS members and departments, along with technical and administrative representatives from LANL.
Once the proposal has passed the initial screening (element completion, allowable citizenship, etc.), the proposal will move to the second step. In this second step, each proposal will be assigned multiple technical reviewers, some from LANL and some from TAMUS, who have expertise in the proposed area. Technical assessments and comments will be returned to the SRP based on the criteria below.
Research Project Rating Criteria
The SRP will focus its attention on the proposals with the highest technical assessments. For this group of proposals, the SRP will consider strategic factors such as alignment with mission, needs for strengthened capabilities and availability of long-term funding. The proposals will be evaluated on three primary criteria: 1) Innovation and creativity, 2) Potential for transformative impact, and 3) Research methodology. Based on combined technical and strategic considerations, the SRP will form recommendations and present them to LANL leadership for approval.
Details for the evaluation rubric (Each equally weighted):
- Innovation and creativity: Is the proposal articulating a highly innovative intellectual advance and/or a creative new approach to expanding scientific knowledge or understanding? Does the proposal use new methods, processes, tools or devices that make possible the reduction of emerging scientific and technical advances to practice?
- Potential for transformative impact: Is the project creating science, technology, and engineering breakthroughs with potential to enable agile and/or revolutionary and/or transformative responses to mission challenges? Is the project delivering new ideas and approaches that are relevant to the Laboratory’s mission, with the potential for high mission impact? Potential for future externally funded joint proposals?
- Research methodology: Is the project executing well-designed scientific methodology, informed by international state of art, to address proposed research and development questions? Is the work of outstanding quality compared to national and international peers, and aligned with the leading edge of emerging scientific opportunity?
Conflict of Interest Disclaimer: Should any member of the SRP have a biased interest in an application, submit an application themselves, or be unable to complete their duties, an alternative panel member will be assigned in their place. Identifiable information about applicants and reviewers will not be released to anyone other than SRP members.
Questions should be directed to email@example.com.