WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $70 million in funding to support research by historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to diversify leadership in the physical sciences. The funding, through DOE’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) initiative, will support internships, training programs, and mentor opportunities at 65 different institutions, including 40 higher-learning institutions that serve minority populations. Ensuring America’s best and brightest students have pathways to STEM fields will be key to leading the world’s energy transition and achieving President Biden’s ambitious energy and climate goals.
“To compete on the global stage, America will need to draw scientists and engineers from every pocket of the nation, and especially from communities that have been historically underrepresented in STEM,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The RENEW initiative will support talented, motivated students to follow their passions for science, energy, and innovation, and help us overcome challenges like climate change and threats to our national security.”
The RENEW initiative leverages DOE’s unique National Laboratories, user facilities, and other research infrastructure to provide training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty at academic institutions currently underrepresented in the U.S. science and technology ecosystem. This funding will help to build a talent pool to further the Department’s mission of solving the nation’s energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science.
RENEW will offer hands-on experiences and open new career avenues for young scientists and engineers at 65 institutions spread across 23 states and the District of Columbia, 40 of which have been identified as Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) by the U.S. Department of Education:
- 17 are Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
- 11 are Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs);
- 2 are Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs); and
- 10 are both AANAPISIs and HSIs.
The remaining 25 awardees are 11 DOE National Laboratories and 14 other colleges and universities. Of the awardees, 39 are designated Emerging Research Institutions, universities and colleges with less than $50 million in Federal funding.
Awards focus on basic research in the physical sciences, including physics, chemistry, materials science, applied mathematics, computer science, biology, and Earth and environmental sciences.
Examples of the selected projects include:
- Providing hands-on training, education, and mentorship in isotope production and related science and technology focused on improving the efficiency of reactor-based isotope production;
- Building students’ capabilities in fusion energy and plasma science and technology research;
- Training a diverse STEM workforce to develop novel materials to enhance the stability, catalytic activity, and conductivity of lithium-sulfur batteries to meet energy storage demands;
- Investing in undergraduate and graduate education and research training to fill critical gaps in high-end computational regional climate modeling by investigating highly variable and uncertain rainfall predictions over East Africa;
- Supporting traineeships with a focus on hands-on research, professional development opportunities, and mentorship in the fields of applied superconductivity, accelerator research, quantum information science and engineering, dark matter and cosmology, and theoretical high energy physics; and
- Providing students with laboratory experience working on modern nuclear physics experiments as well as training in basic and transferrable skills such as coding, electronics, and vacuum system development, and machine learning.
Total funding is $70 million for projects lasting three to five years in duration, with $50 million in Fiscal Year 2023 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.
Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.