July-Sept 2010 – News Archive

September 12, 2010

Wilson Fellowships at Fermilab

The Wilson Fellowship program at Fermilab seeks applications from Ph.D. physicists of exceptional talent with at least two years of post-doctoral work.  The fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and support physicists early in their careers by providing unique opportunities for self-directed research in experimental physics.  Fellows will work on the Fermilab particle physics experiment of their choice.  The Fermilab experimental program includes collider physics at both the Tevatron and the LHC, studies of neutrino and astroparticle physics, as well as R&D and planning for experiments at future colliders and high intensity beams.

The Wilson Fellowships are tenure track positions with an annual salary fully competitive with university assistant professorships.  The appointment is for an initial term of three years and can be renewed for an additional two years upon the completion of a successful review after the first two years.

Each candidate should submit a research statement, not to exceed 5 pages, which gives a focused description of the candidates research program while being a Wilson Fellow, a curriculum vitae, and should arrange to have four letters of reference sent to the address below. Application materials and letters of reference should be received by October 29, 2010.

Materials, letters, and requests for information should be sent to:
Wilson Fellows Committee
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
MS 122, Attention: Ms. Cathryn Laue
P.O. Box 500, Batavia, IL 60510-0500
Email: wilson_fellowship@fnal.gov

Additional information is available at:


September 11, 2010

USA Science and Engineering Festival, Oct 23-24 on the National Mall in Washington DC

September 10, 2010

AAAS Budget News

Before the summer Congressional recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved nine of the twelve appropriation bills, but none have reached the Senate floor. The House passed two bills, and another nine were approved by their respective appropriations subcommittees.  NSF ($7.4 billion request), NIH ($32.2 billion request), the National Institute of Standards and Technology ($919 million request), and NASA ($19 billion request) all have optimistic outlooks for receiving their requested FY 2011 budgets. However, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science ($5.1 billion request) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Farm Research Initiative ($429 million request) — the peer-reviewed external-research part of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) — appear likely to be funded below their request levels but above FY 2010 levels. More detailed analysis and current funding tables are available at the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program website.

Administration Proposes Permanent R&D Tax Credit.  Over the past weekend the Obama administration reaffirmed its support of a permanent and expanded extension of the research and development (R&D) tax credit.  The President outlined the proposal on September 8 in Cleveland.

OMB, Agencies Negotiate FY 2012 Budgets.  Agency budget submissions for FY 2012 are due to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by September 13. This marks the start of negotiations between the agencies and OMB, leading to OMB decisions, or “passbacks,” on each agency’s budget.  Agency budget numbers are finalized around the end of the calendar year, prior to presentation of the Administration’s overall proposed budget to Congress in early February.  Instructions for preparing the FY 2012 budget submissions include a request for a 5% cut in discretionary budget, the inclusion of a list of low-impact programs, and a list of administration priorities.

Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website for additional news on the FY 2011 budget, to order the AAAS Report XXXV: Research and Development FY 2011, or to download presentation slides or audio from the Forum

September 8, 2010

AIP Bulletin

Number 93: September 8, 2010

“Accelerators for America’s Future”

“For optimizing knowledge-based resources in science and technology, and for sustaining an environment for new and revitalized industries and the well-paying jobs they bring, a beam of particles is a very useful tool.” – “Accelerators for America’s Future”

Approximately one year ago the Department of Energy’s Office of High Energy Physics held a well-attended one-day symposium followed by a series of workshops to review “the challenges and opportunities for developing and deploying accelerators to meet national needs.” Earlier this summer DOE released a 100-page report entitled “Accelerators for America’s Future” that presents the findings of the five workshops in key application areas. This report, as described by Walter Henning and Charles Shank, the symposium and workshop chairs, is “a resource for agencies as they develop their agendas and programs.” The report’s findings and recommendations will serve as a foundation for a technology R&D strategic plan that will be developed by the Office of Science.

This well-written report reviews the important contributions that accelerators have and could make in areas such as Energy and Environment, Industry, Medicine, National Security and Discovery Science. A worrisome theme running through the findings of the working groups are the challenges posed by other countries in accelerator advances and applications. In few instances does the United States appear to have a clear advantage in the future development and application of accelerator technology.

What public recognition there is of accelerators is usually limited to the large devices used for basic research. Their application is much wider, with an estimated 30,000 particle accelerators in use throughout the world. The economic impact of accelerators is significant. The current market for medical and industrial accelerators is more than $3.5 billion a year, with estimated annual future growth of 10 percent. The report notes that “all the products that are processed, treated or inspected by particle beams have a collective annual value of more than $500 billion.” A major finding of the report is that:

“The United States, which has traditionally led the world in the development and application of accelerator technology, now lags behind other nations in many cases, and the gap is growing. To achieve the potential of particle accelerators to address national challenges will require a sustained focus on developing transformative technological opportunities, accompanied by changes in national programs and policy.”

Advances in accelerator technology have often resulted from basic scientific research. The application of these advances has been uneven, the report stating:

“A critical challenge is the translation of breakthroughs in accelerator science and technology into applications that benefit the nation’s health, wealth and security. Experts from every field of accelerator science and technology, in the research community and industry alike, agree that making that happen will require bridging the divide often described as the ‘valley of death’ that exists in the United States today between the research laboratory and the marketplace.”

Among the reasons for this difficulty are insufficient R&D funding mechanisms, national facilities, and pilot and demonstration projects. Risk aversion and deficient government-industry policies also contribute to this problem.

The report concludes with a chapter on technical, program, and policy directions. Seven areas requiring further R&D in accelerator technology are identified in general areas such as size, cost, reliability and efficiency, as well as specific improvement such as improved beam control and simulation. Policy recommendations were also described, as summarized early in the report:

“The accelerator stakeholders articulated the technical challenges and risks involved in achieving their vision for future accelerators and focused on changes in policy that would help to make the vision a reality. Across the board, all groups strongly advocated the creation of large-scale demonstration and development facilities to help bridge the gap between development and deployment of accelerator technologies. They called for greatly improved interagency, interprogram, and industry-agency coordination. Because continued innovation in accelerator technology depends on the next generation of accelerator scientists, they emphasized the need to strengthen the training and education of U.S. accelerator scientists and engineers, and to recognize accelerator science as a scientific discipline.

The paragraph concludes:

“The Office of Science will use the workshop’s results, presented in this report, to develop a strategic plan for accelerator technology R&D that recognizes its broad national impacts.”

The full report can be reviewed here.

August 24, 2010

2011 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP) competition is open.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship competition for 2011 is now
open, for students starting or early in their graduate program. Applications
in Physics are due November 18. Fellowship award winners receive
support for three years.

Please make students in or planning to join your group, at an appropriate
stage, aware of this excellent opportunity.

More information is available at:  http://www.nsfgrfp.org/

August 20, 2010

US Department of Energy

Office of Science

Office of High Energy Physics

Accelerator Science Physics Research 

Announcement Number 10-DE-SC-HQ-061(jam)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of High Energy Physics (HEP), located in Germantown, Maryland, is seeking to fill a position with a Physicist who will serve as a program manager in the area of Accelerator Science. The DOE HEP program in Accelerator Science provides the scientific knowledge and basis for  a wide variety of advanced accelerator technologies and techniques that are used not only in carrying out the HEP research program but also in support of the research missions of other DOE Office of Science programs.

Candidates for this position should have a background including research experience and advanced degree(s) in accelerator physics, accelerator-based science (such as particle physics), or closely related fields. The selected individual will manage the HEP research program in Accelerator Science, and as such have the responsibility to plan, coordinate, implement, and evaluate research programs and projects in this field on a national and international level.  Specific duties of the position include:  preparing calls for proposals, organizing independent peer reviews, recommending funding allocations, preparing, justifying and supporting the portions of the Office’s budget relating to accelerator science, and developing and preparing analytical documents to communicate with top management.  For further information on the DOE OHEP program please go to http://www.science.doe.gov/hep/index.shtm, or contact Dr. Glen Crawford, glen.crawford@science.doe.gov, 301-903-4829.

The salary range of this position is $123,758-$155,500. For further information about this position and the instructions on how to apply and submit an application, please go to the following link:  http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=89799491&JobTitle=Physicist&lid=17802&sort=rv%2c-dtex&cn=&rad_units=miles&brd=3876&pp=50&jbf522=1310&vw=b&paygrademin=15&paygrademax=15&re=134&FedEmp=N&FedPub=Y&caller=advanced.aspx&AVSDM=2010-08-03+10%3a24%3a00

To be considered for this position you must apply online. This announcement closes November 4, 2010.  It is imperative that you follow the instructions as stated on the announcement (10-DE-SC-HQ-061 (jam)) located at the website indicated above for DOE JOBS.  U.S. Citizenship is required. The Department of Energy is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

August 9, 2010

AIP Bulletin

Number 87: August 9, 2010

White House Issues FY 2012 Science and Technology Priorities Memo

The budget cycle never pauses in Washington. Although it will be many months until the last of the FY 2011 appropriations bills are enacted, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are looking ahead to the FY 2012 budget request President Obama will send Congress next February.

On July 21, OMB Director Peter Orszag and OSTP Director John Holdren sent a four-page memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies outlining the Administration’s Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2012 budget. The Clinton and Bush Administrations issued similar memos, as did the Obama Administration last year, as part of the preparation of annual budget requests. FY 2012 budget requests are to be submitted by September 13, 2010.

The July 21 memo builds on an OMB memo distributed on June 8. Federal discretionary spending in FY 2012 will continue to be constrained as directed in this memo:

“the President has requested that each non-security agency submit a budget request five percent below the discretionary total provided for that agency for FY 2012 in the FY 2011 Budget. This will allow the President’s Budget to accomplish an overall non-security discretionary freeze even while providing funding for new initiatives and any contingencies that arise over the coming months. Tight budget targets will also be imposed on security-related agencies.”

Later in this June 8 memo, OMB describes efforts to be made in FY 2012 on several programs of interest to the physics and STEM communities:

“Cross-agency Goal and Budget Submission. This Administration has launched numerous cross-agency collaborations to promote efforts among agencies to work effectively together to achieve Presidential priorities. OMB encourages agencies to consult with each other during the budget planning process so that resources are allocated to maximize their impact and avoid inappropriate duplication. OMB will formalize efforts that working groups have been exploring in several areas – including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education; large ecosystem restoration; climate science; climate technology; clean energy; nanotechnology; computing research; homelessness reduction; place-based policies; and obesity reduction – to coordinate FY 2012 Budget submissions among relevant agencies. Agencies are encouraged to look for additional opportunities where, by partnering with other agencies, they can work within guidelines to achieve a larger positive impact on! outcomes.”

The July 21 R&D priorities memo parallels and builds on the memorandum issued last year, with some important differences. This memo reiterates a point that President Obama has made:

“The President has a long-term goal that the R&D investment (both private and Federal) in the United States should reach three percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

There is also new language directing agencies to “pursue transformational solutions to the Nation’s practical challenges” by supporting high-risk, high-return research; encouraging “new approaches to supporting multidisciplinary research,” a directive regarding interagency and international collaborations, and the importance of scientific collections. In addition, an appendix entitled “Challenges and Areas to be Strengthened” includes a new topic: “Managing the competing demands on land, fresh water, and the oceans for the production of food, fiber, biofuels, and ecosystem services based on sustainability and biodiversity.” Cross-cutting areas now include language on “high-impact collaborations” and “an economic and policy environment that promotes and rewards research, entrepreneurship, and innovation.”

August 5, 2010

AIP Bulletin

Number 86: August 5, 2010

Senate COMPETES Bill Passed by Committee

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has passed its version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. At a low-key Executive Session on July 22, the committee considered this bill, S. 3605, along with two bills related to offshore oil drilling and another bill on the reallocation of radio spectrum.

There was little discussion about the COMPETES legislation before it was passed. Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV) explained that the committee staff had spent hours working out the details on various amendments “to try to make people happy.” His spoke about the COMPETES bill for about a minute, noting that the original 2007 legislation was passed in response to the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report. This law expires at the end of next month. Rockefeller said S. 3605 “continues key investments in research and development and STEM education – drivers of America’s economy and keys to our competitiveness in the global marketplace. A strong high-tech workforce is fundamental to addressing the challenges of the 21st century – from developing clean sources of energy to discovering cures for diseases. The small investments we make now will pay incredible dividends down the road.”

Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) spoke about the importance of passing the bill, remarking in her oral and written opening statements that “Science and technology are at the core of America’s ability to compete in an increasingly globalized economy and for solving many of the challenges we face as a nation in energy independence, biotechnology, and healthcare. STEM education plays an essential role in fostering further development of the 21st Century’s innovation-based economy. Several recent studies caution, however, that a danger exists that Americans may not know enough about the STEM fields to significantly contribute to, or benefit fully from, the knowledge-based society that is taking shape around us.”

Of note, Hutchison’s written remarks also stated, “While I appreciate the Chairman’s [Rockefeller] willingness to work with me to reduce the funding levels by about 10 percent from the measure introduced, I believe we will need to further adjust the funding levels before this bill can be joined with the Titles from the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] and Energy [and Natural Resources] Committees and pass the full Senate. We’ve come a long way in streamlining the bill, but we have more work to do. But I will certainly join in supporting the bill being reported today and look forward to helping move it through the legislative process in a bipartisan manner.”

Following these remarks, Hutchison made a single motion for the committee to pass the COMPETES bill and two other bills as amended. Rockefeller called for a voice vote, and all present voted “yes.”

The House Science and Technology Committee passed its version of this bill in late April at a markup session stretching over almost nine hours. H.R. 5116 finally passed the House in late May following two unsuccessful attempts during which Republicans faulted the bill for authorizing what they termed excessive spending. )

The full Senate has not voted on its bill, and leaves this week for a summer recess lasting until September 10. Senate floor time is a scarce commodity, and it is difficult to know when the bill will be considered. There are differences between the House and Senate bills that will have to be resolved. Following committee passage of the Senate bill, House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) issued the following statement:

“I applaud Senator Rockefeller for his work moving this important piece of legislation. The legislation that the Senators voted on moved the funding levels in line with what passed the House in May. I applaud their work, balancing importance of these investments with realities of our current fiscal environment. This pragmatic approach – and the bipartisan manner with which it passed – will go a long way toward getting this important piece of legislation signed into law, and protecting our nation’s scientific and economic leadership. I look forward to working with Senator Rockefeller and Senator Hutchinson as the process moves along.”