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Office of the Director

TO:  LBNL Research Community

On behalf of Director Paul Alivisatos, I am initiating the FY 2017 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program with this Call for Proposals. 

The LDRD program constitutes one of the principal means to seed innovative science and new research directions. An important factor in judging proposals will be their support of competencies aligned with the Laboratory’s and DOE’s strategic directions. Multi-investigator and multi-divisional initiatives are particularly encouraged.   For the FY 2017 cycle, we will review a first subset of proposals as Lab-initiatives and a second subset as Area Priority proposals. 

Successful Lab-initiative related proposals will likely advance Lab strategy in: 

  • Exploration of Novel Computing Technologies
  • ALS-Upgrade Science and Technology
  • Microbes to Biomes 
  • Water-Energy Systems at Scale
  • Quantum to Cosmic (Q2C)

Additionally, the Lab Director, Associate Laboratory Directors (ALDs), and I have agreed on a set of high-priority topics for Area LDRD proposal submissions: 

Biosciences: i) fundamental advances in synthetic biology that relate to energy and environment; ii) research on ecosystem resilience to environmental change and methods to improve environmental quality and resource utilization; iii) biological responses to environmental challenges; and, iv) scalable and flexible bio-manufacturing technologies for energy and environment.

Computing Sciences: i) new cross-divisional partnerships that use advanced computational and mathematical techniques to produce unique lab capabilities ii) advanced algorithms, software techniques, and networking for science at the boundary of observation and simulation; iii) models, algorithms, and software models that will leverage future exascale systems to deliver transformational scientific capabilities.

Earth and Environmental Sciences: i) Dynamic biological-environmental feedbacks across scales in surface and subsurface systems; ii) earth system properties and dynamics; iii) scale-aware approaches for simulating subsurface through atmosphere processes.

Energy Sciencesnovel theoretical and experimental approaches for: i) in situ imaging and spectroscopic characterization techniques that bridge time and length scales, ii) in situ and operando chemistry, iii) design of quantum matter, iv) material systems with bio-inspired and bio-compatible functionalities, and v) synthetic methods for novel chemicals and materials.

Energy Technologies: i) Next Gen Grid: measurement, control, and communication techniques for energy and environmental systems, particularly, focused on next generation Grid and energy distribution; ii) Urban Systems: with a strong focus on buildings efficiency, dynamic and scaled energy efficiency in buildings; iii) EV Everywhere: next generation transportation: including low cost storage concepts; EVs as a part of the grid; integration of transportation with buildings; and, iv) Advanced Manufacturing: this will be a new focal point for this year and we are looking for proposals that will help establish LBNL as a key player in the Manufacturing space, with a focus on energy systems (generation, storage, additive manufacturing, 3-D printing).

Physical Sciences: i) new scientific opportunities in particle physics and cosmology; ii) new opportunities in nuclear physics identified by the NP long range plan; iii) advanced accelerator systems for colliders and other applications; iv) development of novel technical capabilities especially microelectronics; semiconductor detectors, superconducting magnets and composite materials.

All projects should have: 

  • a clearly stated problem (addressing a challenging scientific question, DOE mission, or national need), 
  • coherent objectives, and 
  • a well-considered plan for leadership, organization, and budget.  

Lab initiative proposals should support the high-level strategic goals of the Lab.  Area proposals will be evaluated on their novelty and scientific quality and should involve higher-risk, higher-reward ideas. 

For the FY 2017 cycle, Lab-initiative related proposals will be reviewed by a broad representation of all senior managers.  The Area LDRD submissions will be reviewed and assessed this year by scientific Area priority; i.e. the ALD and the Division Directors within each Area will rank proposals within that Area, and then make recommendations to the Deputy Laboratory Director and Laboratory Director. It will be important to read the full Call for Proposals for further guidance and detailed instructions. 

The total funding level of the FY 2017 LDRD program is estimated to be about $25M for operating and capital equipment expenses (including G&A). Capital equipment funding requests in LDRDs must support a project that receives LDRD operating funds. 

This Call for Proposals (CFP) was announced last Friday in "Today at Berkeley Lab", and a copy of this memo was previously emailed directly to ALDs, Division Directors, and Division Deputies. The complete call, schedule, guidance, and forms will be available on the Web ( All proposals are to be submitted through a web-based submission system that can be accessed via the CFP website. 

Proposals should be put into the submission system by Friday, March 25, 2016. For any other questions or assistance, please e-mail LDRD Coordinator, Darren Ho (