President Biden unveiled an infrastructure plan today that proposes spending more than $200 billion to boost the R&D capacity of the U.S., including by creating a technology-focused directorate within the National Science Foundation and a new national lab focused on climate.
Funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science is increasing marginally in fiscal year 2021. Most of its component programs will receive steady funding, though office-wide initiatives in quantum information science and artificial intelligence are receiving substantial boosts, and work is ramping up on the proposed Electron Ion Collider and Cosmic Microwave Background-S4 projects.
With a series of high-priority projects now in progress, a new report urges the Department of Energy’s High Energy Physics program to start shifting funding back to researchers and to accelerator and detector R&D.
As Congress negotiates appropriations for fiscal year 2021, the House has proposed a marginal increase in the budget for the Department of Energy Office of Science while the Senate has not made any counterpart proposal public. House Democrats have also put forward an expansive package of “emergency” economic stimulus spending.
An advisory panel has recommended that the Department of Energy immediately begin preparing to replace the pressure vessel of the High Flux Isotope Reactor and convert the facility to use low-enriched uranium fuel. It also recommends commencing studies that could lead to a new research reactor.
FYI spoke with Department of Energy Office of Science Director Chris Fall about a range of issues bearing on the national lab system, including a new “Labs of the Future” thought exercise, pandemic recovery, diversity initiatives, and research security.