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Office of the Director

Dear Colleagues,

With this Call for Proposals (please see attached), I am initiating the FY2018 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program, which 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 and DOE’s strategic directions. Multi-investigator and multi-divisional initiatives are particularly encouraged. For the FY2018 cycle, we will review a first subset of proposals as Lab-wide initiatives and a second subset as Area Initiative proposals. 

The following Lab-wide initiatives are in alphabetical order only and do not indicate any particular priority. Successful Lab-wide initiative related proposals will likely advance Lab strategy in: 

  • Beyond Moore's Law
  • Beyond Petrochemicals
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Machine Learning for Science
    Water-Energy

Additionally, the Deputy Lab Director and the ALDs and I have agreed on a set of high-priority topics for Area LDRD proposal submissions, which are listed below (also in alphabetical order): 

  • Biosciences: i) Biological Dark Matter; ii) Modeling the biology: environment interface; iii) Integrated analysis from Molecular to Mesoscale; and iv) Molecules-to-Minds Program.
  • Computing Sciences: i) new cross-divisional partnerships that use advanced computational and mathematical techniques to produce unique lab capabilities; ii) new mathematics that enable increasing capability in modeling and analysis; iii) new models of computation and systems software that increase productivity, reduce errors, or improve performance, security and resilience; and iv) new computational models to derive knowledge and insights from measured and modeled data sets, enabling the understanding of tradeoffs among resource and technology options, and  identifying and quantifying the risks and impacts of current and emerging technologies on markets, the environment, and public policy.
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences: i) Dynamic biological-environmental interactions with climate extremes; ii) subsurface properties and dynamics; and iii) system resilience to climate change and natural hazards.
  • Energy Sciences: novel theoretical and experimental approaches for: i) in situ and/or multimodal imaging and spectroscopic characterization techniques that expand time and length scales, ii) in situ and operando chemistry, iii) rational design of materials and material structures with potentially useful emergent phases, topologies, and quantum behaviors, iv) synthetic methods for novel chemicals and materials, and v) material systems with bio-inspired and bio-compatible functionalities.
  • 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 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) new scientific opportunities in particle physics and cosmology; ii) new opportunities in nuclear science; iii) advanced accelerator systems for colliders and other applications; iv) development of novel technical capabilities, especially microelectronics; semiconductor detectors, superconducting magnets and composite materials.

    An important priority for the Physical Sciences Area is to establish the technical capabilities for Berkeley Lab leadership roles in upcoming scientific opportunities identified in the Nuclear Physics Long Range Plan and the High Energy Physics P5 report.  These include the high luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC), the Stage 4 Cosmic Microwave Background project (CMB S4), a ton-scale neutrino-less double-beta decay experiments, k-BELLA and other opportunities.

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 2018 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 Initiative; 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 2018 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 TABL, and a copy of this memo will be emailed directly to Berkeley Lab scientists and engineers. You can find the complete call, schedule, guidance, and forms here. 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 24, 2017. For any other questions or assistance, please e-mail Darren Ho, the LDRD Coordinator.

Best regards,
Mike