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Office of the Director

TO:  Associate Lab Directors, Division Directors, Division Deputies, all other LBNL Scientists
FR:  Paul Alivisatos, Laboratory Director
CC:  Deputy Laboratory Director, Chief Financial Officer, Chief of Staff, Business Managers, LDRD Coordinator
DT:  January 8, 2015
RE:  Laboratory Directed Research and Development FY 2016 Call for Proposals 

With this Call for Proposals, I am initiating the FY 2016 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program. The LDRD program constitutes one of the principal means for Berkeley Lab to seed innovative science and new research directions. 

While an important factor in judging proposals will be their support of competencies aligned with the Laboratory’s and DOE’s strategic directions, the very best ideas from scientists across the lab are sought--particularly ideas that have the potential to lead to a breakthrough that might influence the direction of the lab in currently unanticipated ways.  I strongly encourage scientists to put forward their very best ideas for support, even if they are beyond the scope of the priorities outlined in this funding call.  Multi-investigator and multi-divisional initiatives are particularly encouraged.   For the FY 2016 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 
  • Energy Innovation 
Additionally, the ALDs, Deputy Lab Director, 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 mathematical approaches for enhancing scientific discovery; ii) advanced algorithms, software techniques, and networking for data-intensive sciences; iii) research into scalable applications to deliver new scientific capability on future exascale machines.

Energy Sciences: novel theoretical and experimental approaches to: i) systems with bio-inspired functionality; ii) in situ and operando chemistry; iii) Earth material properties and dynamics; iv) imaging and spectroscopic characterization of materials; and, v) quantum 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) water-climate-energy dependencies and trajectories, including impacts to water quality. (v) Advanced Manufacturing: this will be a new focal point for this year and we are looking for proposals that will help establish LBL as a key player in the Manufacturing space, with a focus on energy systems (generation, storage, additive manufacturing, 3-D printing).
Physical Sciences: i) scientific opportunities in high energy and nuclear physics; ii) advanced accelerator systems; iii) development of novel technical capabilities especially microelectronics; iv) semiconductor detectors, superconducting magnets and composite materials; and, v) community impact of nuclear energy. 

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 may involve higher-gain, higher-risk ideas. 

For the FY 2016 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 Associate Laboratory Director (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 2016 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) will be announced in Today at Berkeley Lab, and a copy of this memo will be emailed directly to Berkeley Lab scientists and engineers. 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 Monday, March 30, 2015. For any other questions or assistance, please e-mail LDRD Coordinator, Darren Ho (