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NIST to Establish New Centers of Excellence for Work in Forensics, Disaster Resilience

From NIST Tech Beat: June 13, 2014

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Contact: Michael Baum

Officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have announced plans to establish two new research Centers of Excellence to work with academia and industry on issues in forensic science and disaster resilience.

northridge quake damage
Need for disaster resilience planning: The Northridge, Calif., earthquake of January 17, 1994, resulted in significant damage to the community’s infrastructure, including streets, gas pipelines and power transmission systems.
Credit: Rymer/U.S. Geological Survey
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NIST plans to hold merit competitions to establish the centers, tentatively planned to be funded at up to $4 million a year for five years.

NIST Centers of Excellence are meant to provide multidisciplinary research centers where experts from academia, industry and NIST can work together on specific high-priority research topics. The agency established its first such center, dedicated to advanced materials research, in December 2013.*

One of the planned new centers would focus on tools to support community disaster resilience. The center would work on developing integrated, systems-based computational models to assess community infrastructure resilience and guide community-level resilience investment decisions. The proposed center also would develop a data management infrastructure that allows for public access of disaster data, as well as tools and best practices to improve the collection of disaster and resilience data.

The second proposed center would support NIST's efforts to strengthen forensic science through the development and delivery of improved measurement and analysis technologies and the development of best practices and standardized methodologies to improve evidence interpretation and reporting. Because forensic science covers a broad array of technical disciplines, NIST is considering one or more cross-cutting areas where research could benefit work across the field. Potential technical areas of focus include probabilistic methods (analysis techniques that produce a scientific estimate of the likelihood that a known and unknown sample match), pattern recognition and digital evidence.

Each of these centers will provide additional technical resources and expertise to support NIST's ongoing efforts in these important areas.

Details of the application process will be posted on Grants.gov this summer. Plans for both centers are subject to the availability of funding. Interested parties may subscribe to receive email notification of NIST Center of Excellence program announcements by clicking here.

For more on NIST's on-going programs on disaster resilience, see: http://www.nist.gov/el/building_materials/resilience/. For more on NIST work in forensic science, see: www.nist.gov/forensics/.

*See "NIST Announces New Center for Materials Research to Advance Manufacturing and Innovation" at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20131203.cfm#coe.